The Death of the Web Site?

By Deane Barker on July 2, 2003

From the “Let’s Jump To Conclusions” Department — with my acquisition of Zempt, and my continued use of NewsGator, I can produce and consume content without ever using a browser. I get information in Outlook via NewsGator, and I can turn it around (or create it from scratch) in Zempt. I don’t have to look at anyone else’s Web site anymore unless I choose to. I don’t even have to look at my Web site anymore.

Where does this leave Web design? And graphic design? Chris and I have discussed redesigning Gadgetopia because it’s a little bland, but if most of our traffic comes via the RSS feed, why bother? How long before we just…forget that we even have an HTML-based Web site somewhere? How long before someone consciously decides to build a Web site…without the Web site, instead having their “site” exist as nothing but an RSS feed?

Interesting times.



  1. Chris, you and I think the same. I made this comment over at:

    “It’s funny that you bring up the idea of ‘threads.’ I’ve thought for a few days (ever since seeing the NewsMonster interface) that blogs are heading full circle back to Usenet.

    With the advent of RSS and the fact that eventually I think we’ll see threaded postings, having an RSS-capable blog will essentially be the same as having your own Usenet newsgroup — comments will just become another message (entry, post, whatever).”

  2. Keep in mind that this may work for Gadgetopia because your output (product) is information. Pure content sites are still in the minority on the web. There’s still plenty of life left in websites that provide more than just text, say actual products and services.

    Users who use rss feeds for content are still few and far between as well.

    Then there’s the issue of a viable method of supporting rss feeds with ads. Until then, websites want you going to their front door for content so you’ll click on the ads.

  3. Yeah, that’s true. When I said “Web site” I guess I meant “content-based Web site.” Thanks for clarifying.

  4. nods

    I’ve been thinking and talking about this for a while.

    Blogs, Wikis, Newsgroups, Email, IM, and a number of other technologies are really just different modes for communicating messages from me to you, and back.

    Who wrote it (From), who it was meant for (To), when it was posted (Date) and/or modified (Modified or Date, depending on mode), what it’s about (Subject), and then a bunch of mode-specific tags — Email and Newsgroup headers, additional Blog and/or Wiki data, etc.

    The ad-hoc, hot-editing features of Wikis are somewhat additional, but simply adding the ability to retain versions of editable communication modes resolves that difference.

    IMs are theoretically the simplest as they are generally one-or-two liners, but ICQ and AIM permit up to 1024 characters including line-feeds and such — they should all be treated as messages…

    Once the schema of these different modes are all defined, they can be put side-by-side and unified — perhaps best by putting all the mode-specific headers or whatever into an XML-formatted field, as this allows for easy addition of whatever new mode comes along.

    I’ve been lamenting the back-steps that recent new modes have required — abandoning CSS for raw HTML or WikiML, with far less control over syntactically important presentation (such as mixed nesting of ordered and unordered lists) — because I’ve been working with this stuff since the mid-80s, and I know how hard it is for most folks to deal with manually formatting their plain-text messages for Usenet or email — and how few will manually tag their HTML email…

    I want to get my messages — Blog posts (and comments), Usenet, Email, Wiki, IM, etc. — and have them fall into my single schema. I want to view them with the appropriate tool of the moment, selecting only my email, or only my Blogroll, or everything. I want them to look like Usenet when I use my newsreader. I want them to look like the Web when I use my browser or my RSS Aggregator.

    But what to use to accomplish this?

    If you’ve seen any of my other posts, you know — the engine for the solution is Virtuoso — — but it hasn’t been implemented yet. Parts have — many parts have — but the unification is a larger task than I can yet handle…

    Perhaps you’re intrigued enough to try?

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