Consider the question for a sec. How would someone apply Google maps to your data to learn something new, or how would consuming it on their TV be different than their phone? Do you have an API? Is your content available in the ways that users want, and expect?
This very thing came up today at the TL;DR conference. Mike Maples (via Luke W, thanks man) spoke about the next wave of technology and implied that the idea of One Web, a single entity that represents the connected digital experience of the Internet, has already been killed off by the vast array of consumption tools and devices available to users today. The implication was that the future would be defined by connections between all of these services, sources and tools. Basically, that mashups are the way of the future.
What is the One Web?
So is it true? Is the One Web already dead? As with so many things, this is partly a debate of words: whatis the One Web?
If you consider it the HTML/CSS/JS/Flash/etc front-end to content delivery servers, then yes, there may not be a one Web. RSS, Twitter, Facebook, native device apps, maps, aggregators, readers, these all fragment the data and slice it up in new ways.
We consider all of this part of the Web. When you consider the connections between services, data and people, the Web is really just the digital glue holding us all together. Whether that's HTML/CSS, or an app, or data that gets beamed right into our brains (just give it a few years) it all falls under the umbrella of the One Web.
So What Does This Mean for Us?
Mike is absolutely right that the connections we rely on for data are going to get more and more complicated, and the ways we join them together more elaborate. We talk about how we need to be content-focused, and how our content needs to be what drives our design and it's more true now than ever. It's still one Web, but it's a Web of many, many parts.
For your next project (web product, app, whatever) think about how your data will live in a world where the way we access it and the way we distribute it is always in flux, always being changed and extended.
Consider Bagcheck, which was built from the ground up to be part of this mashed up world of the Web. At Bagcheck, they built the API first, then the command line interface, then the mobile interface, then the desktop Web view. They truly started with the content first — then layered in everything else. Since they were acquired by Twitter, we may never see how that could have played out, but the approach was solid.
Another great example is Siri, the virtual assistant on the iPhone. That technology would not be possible without a calendar, music player, phone app, mapping tools, computational resources (Wolfram Alpha) and other services. All of those services were built or modified in such a way that the mashup of Siri was possible. Think about how your service would integrate with that.
So in so many words, we can no longer act like the Web page we create is the only portal we need into the content or services we provide. So how would you handle this? What are you doing now to make sure your content has a place in the future? Let us know in the comments.