In this month's issue of Wired, Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff argue that the Internet is finally undergoing the economic rite of consolidation that railroads, telephony, and the electrical grid reached in the interwar period. The delivery of content via the Internet, Anderson notes, is gravitating toward the “walled garden,” app-driven economy created by Apple; the greater “generative Web”—the free-as-in-speech self-publishing sandbox we identify with Web 2.0—will persist at the periphery, but will consist mainly of the long tail (or wide orbit?) of Internet content production. Basically, the argument—seemingly valid, despite the misleading graph employed as evidence—is that the Internet may not be as disruptive as the fever around it promised: new technological systems will be oriented around delivering traditional media in a more personalized, mobile manner. This supposition has been hotly contested by the community of philosophically-minded engineers whose ideals of absolute transparency have reigned for much of the Internet’s 18-year life.

Triple Canopy is in many ways a product of the wheat-paste ethos of the past decade on the Web, in which anyone with nine dollars to buy a domain name and decent programming skills could create a site that would occupy more or less the same space as those of CBS News and the New York Times (and certain major military contractors). Our original mission statement, however, recalcitrantly claimed that Triple Canopy worked “with and against the Internet”: We risked the conceit of adopting tropes of print magazines that ran up against the undifferentiated “stream” of the Web; we published in issues (discrete assemblages of content); we used the visual metaphor of the page, complete with bounding rectangles—a somewhat arbitrary (though, we thought, comical in its showy marriage of conservatism and innovation) constraint cribbed from the codex.

“What the Web has lacked in its determination to turn itself into a full-fledged media format,” Wolff writes, “is anybody who knew anything about media. Likewise, on the media side, there wasn’t anybody who knew anything about technology.” The challenge of producing “content” of actual value on the Web or on Internet-based applications—the articulation of ideas in a form particular to that expression and its reception—still has everything to do with inhabiting both of those seemingly divergent worlds, and with determining which pre-Internet metaphors remain viable and which are needless constraints. (We’re currently working on a redesign of Triple Canopy’s site that will shed the page-boundary paradigm completely.) Web 2.0 has been a kind of golden age: progressive browser improvements have empowered a generation of graphic designers to bring their work—the centuries-old practice of 2-D information representation—to the screen in a meaningful way. Likewise, Wolff argues, traditional media marketers may finally be able to practice their own trade of monetizing media consumption via the app market. Triple Canopy remains a hybrid, between the promise of the Web (look out for our soon-to-be-open-sourced publishing platform!) and the contemporary tendency to utilize the Internet to deliver conventional media experiences: reading text, watching video, looking at images. We like to think that our new design will go some way toward addressing Wired’s complaint that the Web lacks any “sublime integration of content and systems, of experience and functionality.” If only Steve Jobs had not already “perfectly fill[ed] that void.”