The Symbiotic Web (Frontend London, Nov 2013)

Somewhat on the late, here is the presentation on The Symbiotic Web I gave at Frontend London last November.

Have you ever wondered: is the Web a platform for Information or for Applications? Is one the “correct Web” and the other a perversion of its true purpose?

Answering this question takes us back to the roots of the Web, namely the two key concepts of URIs and links. They are what truly make the power of the Web, alongside the descriptive HTML format, for both humans and machines that use it. For humans, we tend to add visual ornaments through the presentation layer (CSS), whereas we feed machines extra information through the semantic layer (e.g., micro-formats, etc).

At the same time, it’s no denying the growing role of the Web as a platform to distribute and run applications. However, the danger is that we compromise the mission of the Web to distribute information in a standard readable format, by hiding it behind the execution of JavaScript and proprietary APIs.

Maybe the true power of the Web is found at the intersection.

You can treat information as applications, by serving the core content as semantic HTML, hence accessible by humans and machines on all platforms, and applying progressive enhancements to enrich its UX for humans where appropriate.

And you can treat applications as information, by ensuring you use standard HTML affordances even for dynamically generated content, and by opening up your APIs to use standard formats or the same Hypermedia principles that make the Web.

In short, The Symbiotic Web means the adoption and promotion of the Web as both the universal API to information and the ubiquitous runtime for applications, by borrowing the best of both worlds.

Check out the slides if you want to know more.

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