Future technologies should rely on open web standards

Charles McCathieNevile:

Future technologies should rely on open web standards

PanARMENIAN.Net - Charles McCathieNevile is a Chief Standards Officer of Opera Software. He is an active promoter of the open web standards and is responsible for their accessibility in all Opera products. He actively participates in the work of W3C consortium’s committees and heads of one of them (cross-platform applications). Charles McCathieNevile visited Armenia for the first time during BarCamp Yerevan 2011, where he made a presentation and held a workshop on web standards. In an interview with PanARMENIAN.Net, Mr. McCathieNevile told about his vision for the future of the web and also mentioned that he doesn’t trust cloud technologies.
How do you see the future of the web?
The web is going to be more uneven. At the same time, people are developing new computers, more exciting and powerful devices so that the things people try to do on the web will be in a wider range.

Many web pages will feel more like applications and applications will be more like web pages. It’s not a big deal. The web is actually about enabling things that apps do, without giving control to anyone, in person or in group.

The TV market is changing. The reason why the TV industry wants to be involved in the web is they saw what happened with the music industry, which lost a lot of money because at first they didn’t understand that all of the music is moving to the web. The TV industry understands that all the TV is moving to the web. Those people that don’t have a TV now are still watching television or video on their computers. Television wants to be around in ten years’ time so they are getting involved and making sure this stuff works. Precisely, they want to be in a position of using an open platform.

Do you think open source is the future?
Open standards will win, not open source. The difference is that open standards are about managing your piece of software. Firefox is an open source and very well built browser, part of Google Chrome is open source and part is closed source. The part that does the hard work is open source. The little shiny things of the user interface are closed source. Opera is the other way around. The whole complex processor is closed source, but the user interface and the user experience are open. You can change it any way you want. And that’s just the way of managing development of your own product.

Open Standards are different. If Netscape goes out of business (which they did) and you build a corporate system with a business model and an information application that relayed on Netscape – you have a problem. If you build and rely on web standards – you will have no problem.

As a user, people buy all kind of devices because they think it’s good. When the government orders to create a national library and it’s built as an iPhone app – they can’t afford to let Apple die. If the government builds a national library with Open standards they don’t care if it’s Apple today, Nokia tomorrow or some new thing we’ve never heard of. There are many things in which sustainability is much more important.

When do you see the end of HTML 4?
HTML 4 will keep working. If something works in HTML 4, it will work in HTML5 too. It won’t disappear. It’s just that with HTML5 you can do more new things. HTML5 is the future. It’s going to take time to upgrade the whole world to HTML5. People use tools (such as Wordpress), which are often produced with HTML 4. Right now people are producing on HTML 3.2 too. HTML 4 was finished in 1998.

I think HTML5 will be finished in 2014 or maybe 2015. A lot of work is done. We began in 2005. We use a lot of systems that part of HTML5. By the time HTML5 is done, we’ll be working on HTML 6. And that will take another 5 or 6 years to get it completely done. To get to the stage where HTML5 is right now, where most of it is done, it will probably take 2 or 3 years. You start making a new standard when you don’t need the old system anymore.

Do you think it's secure to keep private information online, in the cloud?
Security and privacy are related things. They were very complicated in implementation technically. And they are also complicated in politics: what is your right to privacy and what is the governments’ right or your employer’s right to know what you are doing. Different countries and organizations have different policies because people actually have different beliefs about what is the right thing to do. So you have a range of options. If you keep your data on your own device, you decide when to share it. One of the problems is, if you lose your phone - you lose your data.

So what do you do? The cloud is not actually made with magic. It’s made by companies that do things for money, and from time to time they disappear. So Netscape was a cloud service company and it vanished. So the cloud is not actually reliable, it’s probably not more secure, as it might be. There are millions of systems on the web that are storing important corporate data that are completely open. You don’t need to be a hacker to take the information; you can do it by accident. I’ve seen by accident, a top secret bank data without a try.

I securely keep a lot of my information. I don’t store it in some cloud. I keep my own device. It is safe. If you have a secret you don’t want anyone to know and if you say to someone: “Can you keep a secret?” he will say yes and will not tell you that the “yes” includes two of his friends. And the cloud security is the same. Yes, it’s is secure, but how secure? “Don’t keep this information about me” option is not perfect. Now we have a much better understanding on privacy, security on the web than we did ten years ago. So there is an evolution that will continue and we will get more thoughtful about what we publish, about how easy it is to access it.

Lusine Paravyan / PanARMENIAN News