Google Chrome: Paging Dr. McLuhan

It wasn’t the feature set of Google’s Chrome browser that got me excited, nor was it opening yet another strategic front in Google’s cold war with Microsoft. Nor was it the comic book by Scott McCloud, although that’s really cool. Lately, my mind has been on Javascript.
For most of my career as a creator and critic of media sites, I’ve been disdainful of javascript, a language that was born in the Age of Hype and which it seemed to me did more than any innovation (save Flash) to muck up otherwise perfectly respectable websites.
But things have changed. At first, it was the increasing processing speed of our computers, combined with the excitement of Google Maps, that turned a lot of heads. But now, Mozilla, Apple, and now Google are hard at work improving Javascript’s performance by layering improved execution on top of all that processing power.
Meanwhile, Chrome’s use of a separate process for each page and windows designed to contain Web applications turn windows into something more like applications.
“Browser windows” are becoming applications and “pages” are becoming transactions. This puts even more pressure on us to transcend the page as the metaphor for interacting with the Web and challenges us to rethink the nature of networked media. The developers of Web applications already get this, but media and marketing producers have not even begun to grapple with this shift.
Originally published on my blog at JupiterResearch.

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