The evolution of the web

Here’s another infographic that looks pretty, but fails at conveying information in any useful way: The Evolution of the Web.

[...] To pay homage to the goodness of the web, we’ve put together an interactive infographic, built in HTML5, which details the evolution of major web technologies and browsers:

via Happy third birthday, Chrome! – googleblog.blogspot.com

I understand the timeline aspect, showing major revisions, but what are the coloured lines illustrating? According to the page:

The color bands in this visualization represent the interaction between web technologies and browsers, which brings to life the many powerful web apps that we use daily.

Which sounds a bit hand-wavy to me. Lets look at the interaction of JavaScript with web browsers in more detail, for example:

This seems to show that JavaScript was introduced first to IE between versions 3 and 4, then Opera then Netscape… and then what? Did Netscape stop supporting JS in version 4.5, then Opera abandoned it and then IE? I don’t think so. Are we supposed to ignore the blue line until it hits Safari and Firefox? Then after Chrome, why does the line shoot up to the top? Is height supposed to indicate anything besides the order of browser introduction?

In fact, even for the limited meaning you can extract from the lines, they are an imprecise way of gleaning any accurate information.

It does give a very striking false impression though:

See how all the colourful lines converge on Google Chrome, and then quickly shoot up and away? The graph gives the distinct impression that Chrome has reignited the fires of web technologies and given rise to many more. I’m certain that’s intentional. 

So another dubious infographic, pure marketing material and ethically questionable at that.

One thought on “The evolution of the web

  1. It’s also amusing to note how XML (the yellow line) comes close to Chrome, but doesn’t hit. Google’s browser has no native support for RSS…

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