Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Web is Dead. Apps Rule.

Everything is moving onto the web. The web is where it is at. How long have you heard that? Including from me talking about crisis and emergency communications. Now, we hear the web is dead.

In this intriguing article from Wired magazine, Chris Anderson (author of the Long Tail) and Michael Wolf, the rise and decline of the web is documented. The graphic is particularly telling. Let's make it clear, we are not talking about the decline of the Internet as a more or less universal way of transmitting data. That continues to grow. But as the authors point out, the web is not the internet. The web is one of many, many ways to share information on the internet. As critics of this post have pointed out, the web may not be declining so much as other uses of the internet are expanding so rapidly that the web's share of traffic is declining.

What does this mean for emergency managers and PIOs? It means we all need to be thinking more of delivering information to mobile devices and facilitating interaction on mobile devices. Apps rule as the rapidly emerging preferred front end to data sharing on the internet. During Hurricane Ike we discovered that a very significant percentage of the population of Houston-Galveston were relying on their smartphones--charging batteries with car chargers--to get information about the storm and assistance. The Red Cross study which I've commented on here and other bloggers on as well has made it clear that social media is already and will be a critical means of communicating with an increasing segment of the population. And social media is largely about mobility and access through mobile devices--particularly now as the popularity of the iPad will accelerate the introduction of a million knock-offs. Portable internet devices from smartphones to pad computers to embedded devices in almost everything you use will be ubiquitous.

As has always been true in emergency communication, we can't think that the mountain will come to us. We must find our audience where they are and make sure they are getting the information they need where and how they want it.

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