Last week a build of Chrome got rid of the URL. It’s an experiment. However unlikely burying the URL is to catch on, it’ll be the time when enterprise technology goes over a cliff so high you’ll never hear Enterprise IT’s screams.
Why would Google do this?
Unlike other modern technologies that have hidden as much complexity as possible, web browsers have continued to put this technical artifact top center, dots, slashes and all. The noble URL caused a revolution in sharing and publishing.
It is also a usability tarpit that directly competes with search.
Google motivation for burying the URL is to replace the URL with search. Completely understandable. In fact, two of my favorite smart people have pointed out that it’s how most people use the web anyways:
realistically, this is conceptually how most people use web browsers anyway, and it’s been this way for a long time. They’re just codifying this sad reality into the interface. (via Marco Arment)
It seems to me that search has long since become the default navigational technology of the web, with the main user-focused enhancements coming from predictive and historical results, automatic collections of commonly-used sites, and so forth. By contrast, hyperlink navigation and explicit curation of bookmarks are for the tiny minority. Humans just don’t use the web that way. (via Matt Gemmell)
Have you ever tried to use search as the primary browsing interface on your company’s intranet?
I realize Chrome isn’t used much in the enterprise and that you’ll always have a choice to use a URL anyways. That’s not the point. The point is:
Intranets no longer resemble the Internet
I’m working on a thought-piece about the bifurcation of the intranets from the Internet. Chrome’s burying the URL, though unlikely to ever show up for real in this manner, should be a wakeup call. It’s a great example of how enterprise IT is diverging enterprise technology from consumer technology in a way that’s creating two irreconcilable branches of technology. At some point the technology used inside companies will simply not work the same way as outside.
Imagine if the only way you could commute to work would be to learn to drive a stick shift1?
If this intranet/Internet bifurcation happens, companies will no longer be able to catch up. They’ll have taken a wrong path & will need to backtrack or die.
The answer is to turn the intranet into a software innovation platform2 that resembles the modern Internet. I’ve got a reference architecture for that too. If you’re a CA employee drop me a note at my CA email address and we’ll talk.