The 6 faces of the web

There is an interesting discussion between Steve Jurvetson, Managing Director of VC firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson, and Bill Joy, former Chief Science Officer of Sun Microsystems and now a partner at Kleiner Perkins, Caufield & Byers, on the AlwaysOn Network. They explore the idea of the web having 6 faces and how Joy’s work at Sun with technologies such as Java and Jini was intended to provide a framework for inter-connecting these different faces.

Joy asserts that each face (e.g. the mobile face of the ‘here’ web and the immersive, desktop-based face of the ‘near’ web) requires a different mode of interaction. It starts to become interesting when these modes of interaction need to be converged into a single device. The so-called ‘weird’ web, which embeds intelligence into everyday objects such as household appliances, ticket machines and advertising billboards, is growing exponentially and with this growth comes a strong requirement for devices which can interface with these previously inanimate objects.

The mobile handset is the natural choice by virtue of its ubiquity, but is it possible to meet the new challenge of interfacing effectively with objects such as ticket machines without detracting from their primary purpose – person-to-person communication – using today’s technologies. This is already happening in a basic form with the implementation of NFC (near field communication) as a mobile ticket replacement in Japan, but what will be the long-term implications for handset manufacturers and software platform developers as they try to support multiple interfaces within a single device?

This will be another key theme area at the next MEX conference in May 2006 and I encourage anyone with views on this topic to get in touch. Please email me at if you’d like to share some thoughts.

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