I've noticed a recent linguistic shift in some young people, referring to websites as "apps". Reddit is an "app". The college website is an "app". "Which app did you see that on?"

I don't know if this is just shorthand (they likely access sites through an app) or a genuine misunderstanding of what's going on.

I don't want to be dramatic, but I'd lying if I said it didn't concern me a little. The WWW is a great resource which is free and interoperable. (Well we're down to just 2 browser engines now, but that's another matter). It'd be a shame if the WWW withered away, replaced by "apps", because people didn't know what they had.

@ethicsperoxide I suppose if they only access on their phones through dedicated apps, then I could see why they refer to them this way.

@ethicsperoxide that's already happened. Businesses took over the Internet. The tenants of the free Web are just this: remnants.

@ethicsperoxide it's because of mobile computing.

I access Reddit via an app. I access my college website via an app. etc etc. Yes, they are on the WWW, but they are apps. The terminology isn't wrong or shorthand - that's what they are to most people.
@mewmew @ethicsperoxide Add to this that there are still young nerdy kids who use computers who will grow up to be devs, the internet won't die
@izarella @mewmew @ethicsperoxide I'm more concerned with the direction of the Web itself than with apps culture. Not that it terribly matters anyway since at the end of the day I'm an old Unix hand and you'd have to pry it away from my cold dead fingers
@allison @ethicsperoxide @mewmew
Tech moves on, people always use different spaces, there are 8 billion people, even if only 0.05% of them still use the "internet" that's a healthy community


I see how they work, when they want to know the current Unix timestamp or convert a date into a Unix timestamp, they google for a webapp, if they want to decode base64 they google for a webapp, and even post sensitive data there. Tracking and ads do not matter.

It's horrible.

@ethicsperoxide Two or three browser engines depending on how you count it, but still *very* concerning... I'm seeing what I can do about it!

But there is something very concerning here! The mindset around "apps" seems to be that they are non-interoperable. The possibility of combining apps in ways not thought of their developers do not occur to normal people, or worse politicians.

That's what we software developers have taught them, it disgusts me, and makes my work harder!

@ethicsperoxide misunderstanding? No, this is a propaganda payoff. The young people understand the propaganda.

@ethicsperoxide completely agree with you. But "website", as a word, does not really explain Gmail or Twitter either. Those being mostly obfuscated Javascript blobs sent in chunks to the browser.

Wikipedia is a website, for sure. Imdb also, maybe. But I'm curious what could be a good word to explain Gmail and Twitter web presence.

@ethicsperoxide Technology will change. It always did. Maybe one of our core problems is trying hard to hold on to what we know rather than embracing and creatively shaping this change. This is one of my biggest pain points with FLOSS in 2010 and beyond. 😑

@ethicsperoxide A lot of young people interact with the #Internet via smartphone apps, so it's not surprising. Some (many?) websites even encourage users to add a bookmark on their home screen, allowing them to treat the website like an app. This has no doubt increased with the widespread adoption of responsive web design.

@ethicsperoxide To be fair, this has existed from the beginning. Think of AOL and CompuServe, offering a gated experience of the 'net with friendly icons. Grandma just wanted to look up recipes; she didn't want to have to learn about the TCP/IP stack. There'll always be people who don't want to bother with the details. And there's no need to be an expert in everything. I can telnet into a webserver and type in HTTP requests by hand, but when I want peach cobbler, I ask Grandma.

@ethicsperoxide In my bookmark folder "internet" (which was not a good idea), I have a subfolder "applications" (which is no longer a good idea because half of all webpages are applications and much of the rest behaves to partially).

Many systems have a client/app and a web interface.

So I would argue that the difference between web pages and applications is becoming less sharp.

@ethicsperoxide For most people the experience of the web is now less than a handful of gigantic monopolistic services and links that are only one click away from the gigantic monopolistic services.

The world wide web theoretically offers more freedom and diversity than app platforms do, but in practice, I think there's more diversity in people's app usage than in their web usage in 2020.

The open internet had some great years, but in the end 90% of people could have stuck with AOL. The online experience is de facto a centralized, administered service if you don't actively seek out something other than that.

@ethicsperoxide but they really are apps running in the browser, most modern websites. they're no longer a "site" with a defined static interlinked directory hierarchy

@ethicsperoxide Really good observation. I wonder if it's because websites are only one of the ways of consuming a service.

Is Netflix a website or an app? Your Browser, TV and smartphone app are using the same backend.

The number of services available as an app first, and website second is growing fast. And this overshadows content that is available only as a website.

@ethicsperoxide And software repositories are called "shops"...

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