Friday, November 21, 2008

BookWeb vs GeoWeb

The web as we know it is based on a book analogy. It started out as little more than text with hyper links. Growing more sophisticated, the addition of multimedia and databases still hasn't altered the central book analogy: a web site is still made up of web pages whatever its content.

IMHO the GeoWeb represents the first radical divergence from this form. In the early days of the web maps were static, but now they're dynamic and involve 3D models, videos and time animations. Such a media is now way beyond what can be called a 'map', but it is map based because the navigation is not structured like a book, its primarily a spatial arrangement. Which goes someway to explain why I talk about Google Earth projects on this blog and don't refer to this or that .kmz file. To me its the difference between between a website and a .html file.

A lot of the terms we use on the web are spatial or have spatial roots e.g.: website, navigation, site map and cyberspace. In fact spatial thinking and location are such a central human approachs to thinking that I wonder if the GeoWeb has the power to overtake the BookWeb. It may happen, it may not but if it does I don't think any of us has the faintest idea what it will actually be like.

Everyone have a good weekend.


aa said...

I agree completely - geographic navigation is inherently more intuitive to navigate than other information schema. Rather than depend upon subjectively arranged links and hierarchies, spatial architectures simply mirror reality. Of course the translation to screen & mouse require innovation to handle digital, rather than physical, movement - which is where virtual globes come in. I expect that the geoweb & social web together will totally reshape the internet. said...

Disagree about the "BookWeb". One who primarily uses a web browser and Front Page (or the like) may perceive the Web as a book. If you've ever done more advanced web programming: spidering, scraping, indexing -- or semantic web work -- you perceive the Web as it is: a graph. I do believe that spatial metaphors for data will indeed grow, but underneath it all the graph will persist.