Casey Newton: ‘Google’s Broken Link to the Web’

Casey Newton, with a sharp take on Google’s sprawling announcements at I/O yesterday:

This new approach is captured elegantly in a slogan that appeared several times during Tuesday’s keynote: let Google do the Googling for you. It’s a phrase that identifies browsing the web — a task once considered entertaining enough that it was given the nickname “surfing” — as a chore, something better left to a bot. [...]

This is such a keen observation. Part of what makes the web the web is that it’s very fun. Or at least was, and is supposed to be. The idea that people find it a chore now isn’t a condemnation of Google but the state of the web itself.

Still, as the first day of I/O wound down, it was hard to escape the feeling that the web as we know it is entering a kind of managed decline. Over the past two and a half decades, Google extended itself into so many different parts of the web that it became synonymous with it. And now that LLMs promise to let users understand all that the web contains in real time, Google at last has what it needs to finish the job: replacing the web, in so many of the ways that matter, with itself.

Oof. What a depressing vision.

Wednesday, 15 May 2024