After a few weeks of speculation about the subject of the next Wired magazine cover-story those prediction a strong declaration where right. Chris Anderson, editor in chief of Wired magazine and the first to introduce the concept of the long tail, together with journalist Michael Wolff are declaring the web dead. That is, the web as we know it. They propose that the open nature of the web where people find information through search engines is giving way to a more controlled version where companies merely use the web’s infrastructure to ‘cordon off’ areas that they control. The article in Wired describes how:

Two decades after its birth, the World Wide Web is in decline, as simpler, sleeker services — think apps — are less about the searching and more about the getting. Chris Anderson explains how this new paradigm reflects the inevitable course of capitalism. And Michael Wolff explains why the new breed of media titan is forsaking the Web for more promising (and profitable) pastures

Instead of power being with the search engines the two propose that companies like Facebook, and Apple are the future. These companies control the experience of their users and become a separate world within the web. With advertising within social networking sites expected to hit $3,3 billion next year (and half of that on Facebook alone) this shift does appear to be gaining speed. The authors do say the web won’t totally disappear:

“Sure, we’ll always have Web pages. We still have postcards and telegrams, don’t we? But the center of interactive media — increasingly, the center of gravity of all media — is moving to a post-HTML environment,” we promised nearly a decade and half ago.

Instead to the destination, they say, the web is merely the delivery tool of, the ‘highway’ for applications that deliver content in a more focused way. A move towards these new models would be good news for those seeking ways to have consumers pay for content (even though a web without freely available information seems far-fetched right now). It also means that for those buying and selling pictures and other digital media for these controlled environments there is a need to come to an arrangement that allows creators and sellers to be rewarded for their efforts while buyers do not feel restricted in the amount of content they can buy for these new media applications that can show a much broader and deeper range of content than traditional media and even the ‘traditional’ web.

Some have already started to recognise this need, albeit in the form of conflict. To learn more about this see our the other article today about the People magazine app.

[UPDATE] Mike Masnick at Techdirt does not agree and says ‘reports of the web’s death are greatly exaggerated’.