World Wide Web… legacy content?

We’re familiar with workstation display screens, and are coming to grips with pocket-sized display screens, and next year we’ll start seeing “digital home” screens.

What types of interactions will we have through The Internet, sitting back a few feet away from a large entertainment screen, remote control in hand?

Take a look the photo in Jessica Hodgson’s WSJ article on upcoming Internet TV models. It shows a future TV with a slide-out tool bar, little application widgets available. The looks don’t matter at this point — think of the function.

You’d want to customize the types of info you can call up. Probably a notification system of some type, IM presence, caller ID, a webcam to the front door, various personal services. You probably wouldn’t want to dig into a big document on that big screen — more like quickly monitoring changing world conditions, connecting to others.

Would you want to use a web browser? to surf the Web? to pull up pages which were designed to fit a certain laptop sized screen? to have the ads and the sidebars and the third-party widgets that today’s WWW pages possess? Take a look again at that photo… would you want browser panes and all up on that screen?

I don’t think so. It would be good to have access to a WWW browsing tool, but the numberless millions of today’s WWW pages were explicitly designed for laptop display screens. The very network effects which led to the fast growth of WWW content over the past decade make the viewing not quite satisfactory with other types of digital display screens.

Your mobile phone has a WWW browser. It’s indeed handy. But if you have the choice of a fullsize screen, this is much handier. Or if the site has a parallel version designed for a small screen, then that’s handier too. It’s useful to be able to Surf the Web on a small screen, but the bulk of the content on today’s WWW is not very friendly to unexpected display devices.

Now, the web tech itself can make the crossover across devices, I think… shouldn’t be any reason why hypertext markup and JavaScript couldn’t drive a good TV display too. But the World Wide Web of content, all those pages, all those sites… it’s hard for me to picture that as being as much fun eight feet away from the screen with a keypad.

Web tech… that’s a different subject than WWW content. That content was tuned for one screen. In a multiscreen world, we have to figure out how to migrate the useful parts of this legacy content.

If you’ve got a work screen, a pocket screen, and a home screen, it would be strange if they all showed the same thing. The World Wide Web’s current content is largely designed to be displayed upon a workstation screen. It’s legacy content.