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My Stop pushing the web forward post got quite a few reactions. It’s time for a redux.
Counting Twitter reactions, it struck me that there were far more people who agreed with me than who disagreed. Sure, this is anecdotal data, but I didn’t expect it — I’d hoped for 50% or so agreement at most. There was disagreement as well — some of it dickish, but most quite polite. (At a certain point I had a sad about the dickishness, but looking back it was not all that bad, just the inevitable consequence of saying something that’s — so far — outside the mainstream of web thought.)
The big pushback against my feature moratorium idea came from Jake Archibald with an assist from Bruce Lawson (who also provides a list of other reactions), while Aaron Gustafson tried to find a middle ground. This response mostly focuses on Jake’s piece.
Fair warning. You’re going to hate this one. I want to stop pushing the web forward for a while. I want a moratorium on new browser features for about a year or so.
Recently I’ve been having serious doubts about the whole push the web forward thing. Why should we push the web forward? And forward to what, exactly? Do we want the web to be at whatever we push it forward to? You never hear those questions.
Pushing the web forward currently means cramming in more copies of native functionality at breakneck speed — interesting stuff, mind you, but there’s just too much of it.
Quick, name all the new features browsers shipped in 2015! You see? You can’t. That’s the problem.
We get ever more features that become ever more complex and need ever more polyfills and other tools to function — tools that are part of the problem, and not of the solution.
I don’t think this is a particularly good place to push the web forward to. Native apps will always be much better at native than a browser. Instead, we should focus on the web’s strengths: simplicity, URLs and reach.
The innovation machine is running at full speed in the wrong direction. We need a break. We need an opportunity to learn to the features we already have responsibly — without tools! Also, we need the time for a fundamental conversation about where we want to push the web forward to. A year-long moratorium on new features would buy us that time.
Last week the news broke that Acadine Technologies, a Hong Kong start-up led and peopled by mostly ex-Mozillians, raised venture capital to create H5OS, a Firefox OS fork. I believe the political motivations behind this move have been underreported.