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by Jay Fienberg

The browser for disintermediation on the web (and of web 2.0)

posted: Jun 14, 2006 3:04:08 PM

I've started writing a longer post about what I call "Firefox Office", which was set off by Jim Benson's post, When is a Spreadsheet not a Spreadsheet, about Google Spreadsheet and (in the comments) about wikiCalc.

But, I wanted to separately point out this excellent and enthusiastic Screencast of Flock Beta 1, by Josue Salazar (of Made in Costa Rica, which I mention especially because I love Costa Rica, and Josue's enthusiasm reminds me of Costa Rica).

Anyway, I wanted to make a quick point about how the web is more about web browsers than about websites.

In the early days of the World Wide Web, disintermediation, or cutting out the middleman, was a big idea. And, to the degree that the economics of distintermediation didn't work out for everyone and led to the dot com bust, reintermediation has been a big part of the so-called "web 2.0" era, e.g., many of the darlings of web 2.0 are effectively middlemen, albeit they are middlemen of web services, aka centralized websites.

But, the web browser (and, in general, the web client that lets people browser the web, including playing media files) is the interface to the network that is the web. And, as such, websites (and, in general, web services) only matter to the degree that they deliver things to the web browser / client.

Flock is a step in the direction I am imagining in that it allows the browser to interact with web services without utilizing websites. For example, Flock can use either Flickr or Photobucket as its "network" for images that are displayed in the browser.

So, imagine a browser that can use any number of image services the way Flock uses Flickr and Photobucket. Imagine that anyone can host their own image service. Imagine that "hosting" is not really required, e.g., any browser is part of the network and can itself be a host (i.e., browser to browser, or peer-to-peer, image services).

I am just saying: that kind of thing can happen in the browser. And, when it does, it distintermediates the websites and web services.

So, the browser can and will disintermediate all of the web 2.0 version of "the web as platform": beyond this, the browser + network = "the web as platform", or whatever one might want to call it. But, in any case, we won't need any of the current web 2.0 services or sites. They may be options that people will use, but they themselves won't be the platform we'll want to build on (because we'll just skip the middlemen).

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