Streaming is replacing the web as we know it

Streaming is replacing the web as we know it

Summary: Call it 'streampunk.' Renowned Yale computer scientist David Gelernter explains why the web is coming to an end, and what's replacing it.


Yale computer scientist David Gelernter says the Web as we know it is coming to an end. What's arriving in it's place is a whole new dimension of computing.

David Gelernter Yale - photo by National Endowment for the Arts 2

In a new post at Wired, Gelernter calls the new paradigm emerging as a time-based "worldstream." It’s "already happening," he adds, starting with the "lifestream" that he and Eric Freeman predicted in a 1997 article

If Gelernter is right, I think we may be entering a whole new era of streampunk.

Or, as Gelernter puts it: "People ask what the next web will be like, but there won’t be a next web." The lifestream of computing began in the eaarly 2000s with blogs and RSS feeds, a move away from the "flatland" of desktop computing. Now, we are moving full-force into a computing paradigm in which information of our choice is continuously streamed to us.

Soon, he says, "the web will be history."  Along with killing the operating system, browser and search, the meaning of “computer” is changing as well:

"Whether large or small (e.g., a smartphone), a computer’s main function in the near future will be tuning in to — as a car radio tunes in a broadcast station — the constantly flowing global cyberflow. We won’t care much about the computer devices themselves since we’ll be more focused on the world of information … and our lives as attached to it."

Gelernter says we aren't quite there yet, and what is needed to enable this is a "stream browser" that are like today’s browsers, "but designed to add, subtract, and navigate streams.... Stream-browsers will help us tune in to the information we want by implementing a type of custom-coffee blender: We’re offered thousands of different stream 'flavors,' we choose the flavors we want, and the blender mixes our streams to order."

As a result, he adds, "every site’s content is liberated from the confines of space. It becomes part of a universal timestream." and e-commerce won't require customers to work at finding new products, visiting 100 different sites to find a product at the right price. "People no longer want to be connected to computers or ‘sites’ -- they probably never did," he adds.

(Photo: National Endowment for the Arts.)

(Thumbnail photo: Joe McKendrick.)


Topic: Cloud

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  • Some of what he has been smoking.

    So, the web is going to cease to exist because we are going to stream the web?

    Doesn't make the slightest bit of sense.

    So if I wanted to read ZDNet, I can't because the web doesn't exist, but I can have it streamed to me...

    Yeah, whatever....
    • i think he wasnt smoking

      but did some shrooms or cactus at the very least
    • Wow

      Love my job, since I've been bringing in $5600… I sit at home, music playing while I work in front of my new iMac that I got now that I'm making it online.(Menu more information)
  • Not until the sufficient bandwidth channels are installed nationwide

    And wireless is still vastly slower than wired...

    Maybe in 30 years, or less if profit margins were whittled down, since the public is already whining about collusion and excessively high prices already... just for streaming video whose quality is lower, more fuzzy, color bleed, blockiness, and other problems associated with compression to compensate for the poor bandwidth currently available - and the visual quality can be quite obvious...
    • I think maybe...

      you should have read the article before commenting, because it wasn't about video streaming.
  • No

    For one thing, what the average user uses for Web access, the "browser" is actually based on a simple paging metaphor created by the earliest web browser developers, most notably NCSA Mosaic: you go to some web page and then explore via clicking on links that might take you to a different page or area, or actively do something, like play a video. You can then page move backwards to a early point in your exploration and then page forward onto a new path. While modern browsers are prettier and have more features, their basic functionality is still very much Mosaic-like.

    The Web, though, exists in multiple dimensions from a single nexus point (including even a comment on tech-oriented news site), and has always meant to be more interactive than it had been for years thanks to technological limitations. Interactive collaboration was always intended, but it took the likes of Skype and Dropbox to really bring it to the masses. The web is not coming to any sort of end -- the tools for making better use of it are simply, finally improving (I personally really want a 4d browser that shows an interactive map of a web site, including older content.)
    • Wayback+browser huh...

      Yes, that is indeed a neat idea, could just take the 3d mode from dev tools and add older layers extending into the background:
      • Cute

        Sort of 3D tiling with history. I was actually thinking more along what this old-ish Japanese project was trying to accomplish:
        • Heck, let's just go all the way...

          Ghost in the Shell needs to get here already.

  • So long Chromebooks!!

    Guess no Chromebooks for you!! /s
    Arm A. Geddon
  • One more thing.

    Must be some of that post-PC world.
    Arm A. Geddon
  • OK who was the culprit....?

    Looks like some someone gave this codger a win8 machine to replace his windows 95 computer...

    For the consumers that excel with touch devices from apple and microsoft, they are being bombarded with streaming gunk to their hearts content.

    The future of computers and they way they are used is going so fast even the best of us are throwing our hands in the air or at least bashing our heads against a wall.
  • Opinion not noted.

    I'd say "opinion noted," but it's not even really worth noting.
    • Concise, Succinct Assessment

      No Text. If I print NT, it is considered Spam. go Figger.
      • Try just a space

        Info Dave
  • Thank you!

    Forget about Google that works hard to bring HTML, Search and Web in general to a new level. Forget about Kindles, Wikipedia and Project Gutenberg. It's time to invest in Netflix. What a brilliant idea! I'd like to have two or three B-rated movies streamed at once. Perhaps there is hope that quality of streaming content will multilply this way.
  • Sheer idiocy from academia

    This "Computer Scientist" must be out of his tree or is smoking some funny stuff.

    What he propose is sheer idiocy and doesn't make the slightest bit of sense. He should be looking for new employment instead of spewing such embarassing nonsense.
  • I guess I'm out of my league

    I can't figure out the point this guy is making. The problem with his analogy is that the car radio can only play what the station sends out. Yes you can change stations, but you are still getting predetermined programs. With the non-life-streamed web, I can search for the data I want find it quickly, compare it with several sources and use it in anyway that I choose. I'm not sure I want a radio station internet.
  • I figured out the ZDNET philosophy years ago..

    simply put, if they claim EVERYTHING to be the next big thing, eventually they are right..once..
  • Computer says...


    (Apparently you have to add more stuff for this not to be considered spam, so here you go)