When we first started publising to the Web, it took the form of a long text document that scrolled past the physical confines of the display monitor. To view the content “under the fold,” we clicked a scroll bar to the right of the document. Some people loved it; others hated it.
There is an advantage of a long document scrolling down your screen. It was one physical document and searching for a word or phrase was easy. It also made reading seamless since the document kept scrolling without requiring a page break. Going up and down the document was also easy. As far as editing was concerned, you did not have to worry about elements breaking up into the next page because there was, for all practical purposes, only one long page.
Those who hated it hated that it did not look like a real world document, i.e. with distinct pages. Also printing was problematic because you never knew what part of your content would print on which page. To mimic pages, browsers introduced frames. Where are frames today, you ask? Never mind, because designers and users alike hated it. [Also, some dude patented it and decided to sue everyone who used it on their web pages.] You can still see frames today as that thin horizontal bar at the top or bottom of a page. Most people hate these but some web designers believe it gives them a nice design element that always stay on screen.
Now Hakon Wium Lie, the creator of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS), wants to kill scroll bars altogether. This is not a bad idea and is in fact the natural next step in browser development. After all, why do we have to code apps for the iPad or any other tablet? For all the good things that Steve Jobs has done for tech, apps are probably the greatest backward step we have taken. Before apps, the world was steadily moving from coding programs that ran on only one platform to coding for web-centric platforms, i.e. coding once and having your program run on all browsers on all platforms. It is therefore high time that modern browsers adopt the user interface the iPhone/iPod/iPad made so popular: gestures, and get us back on the right track.
If modern browsers understood gestures, like turning a page, the need for proprietary apps would vanish. For why would you want to code for only the one [Apple] platform (and be subject to the whim of the Apple App Store) when you can code for the browser and your code would then run on all platforms? The browser has introduced an element of freedom that we did not have before and it does not make sense to lose that freedom with proprietary apps.
So yes, let’s update our browsers with all the wonderful user interface Apple made popular. I would still keep the option of scroll bars (after all, it’s just a different view) for those who prefer them to turning pages.