Casey Newton: Scenes From a Dying Web
Opening the Arc Search app for the first time last week, though, I experienced a rare emotion: a kind of revulsion at the app’s mere existence, and at what it portends.
If I’m known for loving and advocating for one app, it has to be the Arc web browser. I was one of the app’s earliest users and it’s clicked with me basically perfectly. I love their style, their thoughtfulness, and their weekly releases that usually bring something that makes my experience a little better.
I say this to give some context when I say Casey’s first impressions of Arc Search are very much in line with my own. Here’s me minutes after installing the app:
I kinda really dislike it. It’s super well made and the pages it builds for you are visually nice, but oof do I kinda hate everything that this is about
I followed this up the next day with a video that touched a bit on this feeling, and a few days later I posted about some related features added to the desktop app that I liked quite a bit more. Sadly, I was bummed out all over again when I watched their video discussing their vision for the future of Arc. Finally, I just listened to The Browser Company CEO Josh Miller interviewed on The Vergecast where David Pierce asked some of the same questions I have about these moves.
I’m struggling to gather my full thoughts on this “browse for me” idea. On the one hand, disruption is a real thing and you can’t be a stick in the mud who rejects all progress, but there’s something smarmy about how this feature works right now and I just don’t like it. Miller says in his interview with Casey that he agrees that we need to figure out how to make it financially viable for people to keep making the content “browse with me” relies on, but he seems to have a “move fast and break things” mentality for for this — we’ll break it and let other people try to fix it.