What do we want from the web?

Steven Pemberton

Speakers: Steven Pemberton
Time: 10.15-11.00 Wednesday, 5. Nov 2014
Session: Designing a better Web
Track: Towards The Open Web,

See slides

Slides hosted on homepages.cwi.nl)

The web is now over 20 years old, but still in its infancy.

Books printed 100 years ago are still readable, and available in many cases. Will we still be able to read and access websites made today in 100 years time? Or will all our content be lost to future ages? What is needed to make the web age-tolerant? What do we want from the web in both the short and long term?


Despite the use of style-sheets, the current web is almost completely visually-oriented. This locks the content into one particular representation, and makes it hard to repurpose. What we need is a web that is primarily content-oriented, with a final phase of presentation; only in that way can content be repurposed in the same way that data can be.

Design for the web should be like design for a house style. It has a general style that the content can flow into.


We don’t want to have to produce copies of our websites for each new type of platform or device. There needs to be a generic method of repurposing content to the formfactor of the device accessing it.


Even when we are 80, we will still want and need to use the web. How can we make our 30-year-old selves sensitive to the problem of our less-abled


With the coming of HTML5, the web has stopped being about documents, and started being about programs. Now only programmers can produce modern web pages. What can be done to alleviate the problem?


HTTP, the protocol used for serving Web pages, has served us well for the last 20 years, but is beginning to show its age: it has become a single-point-of-failure for content. It enables DDoS attacks, makes it easy for governments and other agencies to censor sites and content, and just when a website becomes super-popular it can fail causing the website to crash and be unreachable.

This talk will cover these points, and general approaches that could be used to make a coherent future web.


Read more in this conference news: 5 things about the web that we need to future-prove