The USS Quad Damage

Give me a new internet

The current one doesn't fit into my world...

You might be wondering what's so "new" about this idea.

As screen sizes have gotten bigger, websites have gotten bigger to match. The “minimum width” that a website requires is now 1024x768. Users of the internet are dutifully maximising their screen and using tabbed browsing, and reading a tiny sliver of information in an otherwise gigantic website. I’m sure oil companies have an easier job finding tiny veins of oil in the ground than people do in finding that tiny vein of actual data in the web page they’re reading.

Can anyone find the readable part of this site?

I’m immediately hunting for the “print version” of a site, or the mobile version (thank goodness that most web designers are also iphone nerds) of a website, as soon as I click on it. Interestingly, I’m not arguing that websites get bigger. I’m arguing that websites get smaller. Allow me to blow your minds with a vision of the netular future:

Why can't the web be more like this

You might be wondering what’s so “new” about this idea. After all, it just looks like IE and windows 3.1 windows scattered around. You’d be right, except it’s Nautilus in spatial mode, and epiphany without any of the extra stuff showing — Notably, no address bar, no back/forward buttons, no nothing. The important feature I’m looking for (which does not exist, AFAIK) is the spatial context of the website.

Notice how XKCD is wide enough to read that comic, while other websites are narrower and longer? I want the browser to remember that, as well as the scroll location of the site, when I visit it next time. This is very similar to the spatial Nautilus idea, which remembers where the folders are, what size, and what point you scrolled to last time. Importantly, as I “browse around”, the browser should automatically open new windows instead of changing the window that’s there. There’s no need for a back button, you just go back to the other window, and no need for tabs, you just go to another window you clicked on.

This is a much more difficult idea than it sounds: How does a website (esp. since the web is so dynamic now) recognise that two pages are similar enough that it doesn’t pop a new window? For example, when reading xkcd, should it pop a new window when I click on the previous and next comics? I reckon it shouldn’t! How does it know that I’m performing an operation (like deleting a mail in gmail) so it doesn’t pop a new gmail window every time? The only thing I can think of is a META tag in web pages which mark that the “back” operation is not supported. I think even current browsers can deal with that.