Thursday, January 13, 2005

Web based functionality versus desktop programs

Hmm, Ive been reading recently that a lot of people are moving towards web-based functionality over desktop applications.

I can definitely see why that would be the case. Web-based mail for instance has saved my ass on many occassions when I have had assignments or lecture notes to take to uni and havent had my USB key with me. I usually gmail them to myself from my mac and download them in the lab onto the local machine just before the lecture.

The great part of this is that the lab has almost ZERO connectivity outside web access. But it just works and thats good enough for me.

The problem with this whole notion of course, is that essentially we are making ever increasing complexity rely on what is frankly an abomination of a protocol (that being http). I'm just thankful that people arent still calling themselves html coders anymore.

But the issue is more serious than using just a crippled protocol. The problem is that essentially with this model, your data is stored at the server end and not the client. The client is essentially a thin client which just accesses server functionality. This isnt new of course, its been around as a model since the days of terminals accessing mainframes. But what scares me is that we're seeing a push towards centralized resources again. Only this time, those resources are funded by third party companies with a need to make a profit.

I havent got any real rational arguments against it all quite yet. Hell, Ive not even figured out why I'm so scared of it. Other than to point towards the success of the PC versus the terminal and look at the empowerment that happened when PC's were introduced onto everyone's desktop and control was taken away from "the man" who administered the mainframe.

Maybe I dislike this move away from empowering the masses towards essentially aggregating them and essentially making them into a resource to be used (via advertising, data farming, spam or whatever).

However, you cant argue with the usefulness of having a platform independant thin-client architecture for these things. Gmail, Bloglines, Blogger et all seem to do the job at hand very nicely!


1 comment:

  1. Well put. I also can't say why I don't like the move towards web-based everything, just like you. I don't like it - but I'm not afraid of it *juts out jaw*.

    I can list some reasons why I think its not a very good idea, but they tend to seem pretty lame, so I won't. But there weems to be something intrinsically wrong about the momentum.

    Maybe its the bandwidth thang. Dunno.