The Web is like water

The Web is like water

The Web is like water presented by Scott Jenson (@scottjenson) at The Web Is 2014. Scott discussed the physical web and how we need to think about more than existing stuff. Here's what I learned from his talk.

The fact the web can work on every platform is its superpower.

Standards change

  • We consider the car steering wheel as a standard, but when self driving cars hit the market this might change.
  • Why doesn't the browser have a browser like our PC? We still type a command line (URL) into a command prompt (address bar).
  • The iPhone and mobile hit us by surprise, we shouldn't be arguing native vs web.


  • We're lagging behind but should be going ahead in a different direction.
  • It's getting harder to make successful apps, you now have to do something good.
  • Smart devices are everywhere but each needs its own apps.
  • Apps are cool, they drove the boat but now we need something else.

An exponential problem

Yahoo used to be manual input, adding new sites by hand but it had to be replaced with an algorithm. We seem to like thinking of exponential things in linear.

iBeacon is cool but do we want to have to download an app in every store we enter? Apps were great when we had one device, the phone, but now we have more and it's growing exponentially.

Smart devices

A smart toaster isn't about playing World of Warcraft or syncing with your iPad, there are 3 stages to what we see:

  • Coordination: Things happening as you wake up.
  • Control: Being able to control the device.
  • Discovery: What if everything had a URL?

We don't yet know what great things we will achieve with smart devices but we need to create an environment for discovery.

Low energy bluetooth

What if your pill jar had a video in your language telling you the important information. What could we do with rental bikes, parking, bus stops, printers if everything transmitted a simple URL. We don't need big apps just the ability to give more information.

The web needs a discovery service, low energy bluetooth devices constantly broadcasting a URL. As you get closer you can connect with your smart device and get *a Webpage*.

The vending machine

Imagine a vending machine you can access with your phone, you could place your order on a transmitted URL with any payment method you choose and the vending machine would automatically dispense your selection.


We keeping building trucks and tolls but not the roads, it's going to take time. We like existing stuff and it's cool to copy but we need to think about more.

The web can do stuff that apps can't do.

Scott Jenson presents the web is like water.
Scott Jenson presents the web is like water.