Web Is in Grave Danger

Opinion: Standards are the silver bullet in battling threats to Web 2.0.

I can bend time and space!" said the funny Japanese man who suddenly appeared seemingly out of nowhere.

"Whoa," I said. "Who are you, and where did you come from?"

"Oh, Im a hero, and I have traveled to you from one year in the future."

"Wait a second. I know you—youre from that new TV show. Are you here to tell me to save the cheerleader, save the world?"

"Forget the stupid cheerleader!" the hero said. "I have much more important news. Web 2.0 will face many grave threats to its existence in 2007."

"Hmm, very interesting," I said. "Well have to warn people about that. But, first, one question: Does that good-looking blonde get control of her powers and her evil other half?"

"She has no powers—shes just crazy! Now, pay attention," the hero said. "The first threat that Web 2.0 will face in 2007 will strike to the very core of its existence. RSS—the technology that makes it possible for people to subscribe to blogs, podcasts, newsfeeds, custom searches and many other aspects of Web 2.0—will be subverted by evildoers who will use its automated delivery capabilities to spread viruses, Trojans, spam and spyware. You must warn all Web developers and Web 2.0 standards guardians to work to make RSS as secure as possible to prevent this."

"Will do," I said. "Ill start beating the drum about the security dangers of RSS right away. But first, in the show, it turns out that the Indian professor guy actually has his own superpowers, right?"

"Ah, stay focused," the hero admonished. "Be like Mr. Spock—logical. My first warning is about AJAX. It will be at the center of two major events in the year 2007."

The hero continued: "The first problem will come from AJAXs power to allow developers to create rich multimedia Web sites and applications. During 2007, developers will go so far overboard with AJAX sites that the entire World Wide Web will be forced to its knees. Sites will be overwhelmed with over-the-top advertisements, videos and GUI-like menus and windows. The headaches, frustrations and fits caused by all these flashing AJAX-enabled sites will drive users from the Web. You must warn Web developers to tone it down when it comes to adding AJAX capabilities to their Web sites."

"Im already on it," I said, somewhat defensively. "That was the exact topic of a recent column of mine, and Ill keep up the good fight. Whats the second problem with AJAX?"

The hero thought for just a moment and then said, "In 2007, because of the continued frustration of users, the exodus from Microsofts Internet Explorer will continue, and its percentage of the browser market will drop below 50 percent.

"To fight the exodus," he continued, "Microsoft will return to its old strategy of embrace and extend. It will begin to change the AJAX standard so that many key elements work only on Microsoft Web browsers. This will once again lead to an increase in the number of Web sites that will work properly only with IE. You must warn developers, standards bodies and users to fight against these changes and to make sure that Microsoft adheres to true Web standards. This will prevent the Web from once again forking."

"Wow, thats terrible, especially since weve finally been seeing an end to sites that work only on IE," I replied with a sigh. "Ill fight to make sure that Web developers continue to build sites to standards, not to specific Web browsers. Oh, yeah, one more question: Does that guy Peter get back with Rory Gilmore, and does his dad, Rocky Balboa, help him with his powers?"

"Stupid tech writer—you are getting your TV shows and movies mixed up," the hero scolded. "This is a serious matter. In 2007, Web 2.0 and the entire Web itself will face grave threats that will endanger all the progress that has been made recently. Standards are the key. Developers must continue to embrace standards, and the standards bodies must work hard to make sure that technologies such as RSS are as secure against evil uses as possible.

"Save the standards, save the World Wide Web," he said.

Labs Director Jim Rapoza can be reached at jim_rapoza@ziffdavis.com.

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