The Simple Web

Snapchat, Instagram, Tinder, and countless other services are growing at whiplash-inducing speed. What do they have in common? Born in the post-iPhone era? Check. Delicious, addictive, time-wasting, attention-sucking quicksands? Yep. But most important: They are simple. Simple to understand, simple to use, and simple to enjoy.

The key to understanding the rise of these apps lies in something Evan Williams, cofounder of Blogger and Twitter, told me a few years ago about the natural biorhythm of our relationship with Internet services. “There is this inevitable pattern of specialization and generalization,” he said, meaning that we cycle between periods in which we want all of our Internet activity consolidated and other times in which we want a bunch of elegant monotaskers. Clearly we have reentered a simplification phase.

You can see this cycle through the entire history of the commercial Internet. The original web was so sparse (but also so slow

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