Websites of the 2080s

30 May 2012

A scene from Promotheus (2012)
On June 8th, Ridley Scott’s Prometheus will premiere in North America before going on to exist as a download or digital file encoded on a disc. Since February there has existed an online marketing campaign consisting of videos and websites, which have prompted me to consider this daily technology as it is now, and how it could be by the time the movie is set, some eighty years from now (reportedly 2093).

By that time we will have resolved a lot of technical issues. Formats will be even more standardized, maybe resembling something like magazines and how templated they are.

Also, I imagine that some other technology will have subsumed the html/css/javascript trinity that is currently behind all sophisticated websites.


HTML is merely a collection of bracketed tags inserted into text files. Barring the development of quantum computers, or quantum/classical hybrids (which Kim Stanley Robinson calls ‘qubes’ in his latest novel, 2312), text files will remain what they are today. HTML as a collection of tags need not necessarily go away.

When I began implementing my Journal as a localhosted WordPress database, I did so with the understanding that my Journal as a collection of was likely to be unreadable in 20 years, whereas HTML was probably future proof.


CSS is another form of text file, but it is already giving was to LESS/SASS as an interface for writing it.


Javascript has exploded as a programing language – I remember when people used to say “… incase people have JavaScript turned off” … and why would they have it turned off? Because early on there were security issues.

This all seems to be ancient history and Javascript has become a necessity, making websites seem like something belonging to a computer. (That is, an interactive publication rather than a digitized magazine). Javascript has advanced so much in the past five years that Flash is definitely on its way out as a web-interface medium.

The idea of something replacing HTML/CSS/Javascript in ten years (2022) is unrealistic. However, by 2022, we may (as we are now seeing with LESS or SASS) have the hints of something else, with working groups considering the re-invention of the technical language of the Cloud.

Present + 30 years

By 2042 then, we may have something else. Browsers will still be able to read a webpage from our era by piping the text files through a deprecated renderer, or some form of built in emulator (something like what OS X began using with the introduction of Roseta).

In the past month, I’ve dived into exploring WordPress themes and understanding the possibilities offered by WordPress as a CMS. I’ve used it as a blogging platform for five years, but only in the past six months have I begun to understand its use and potential to drive contemporary websites. The technical sophistication offered by off-the-shelf themes I found frankly stunning, and it is this model I foresee going forward. However, it is this very complicated collection (the WordPress backend remains a mess) that I imagine will be stripped down and simplified, so that by the 2080s, the database to text-file interface will be streamlined that there will be nothing complicated about it.

All of this inter-relation could be integrated into one backend coding interface, and we’ll have something like this eventually.

Document History
  1. May 2012: Published to my blog
  2. Aug 2015: this version produced, with copy edits