One of the key issues that I think is going to come up in the context of the Mobile Web Best Practices working group that I’m going to chair is that of Accessibility. To put it simply, what is the intersection of Web “accessibility” and Web “mobility?” To be sure, a lot of what makes a Web content accessible can also aid it in being Mobile browser friendly. Some times I hear people say that a user of a browser on mobile is “disabled” in a way because of the limitations of the mobile device. I disagree with this notion. I think — and forgive me for this — that users of mobile browsers are actually “differently-abled” in the truest sense. There are both advantages and disadvantages to mobile browsing. For example, you have the disadvantage of the smaller screen but the (at least potential) advantage of mobility and location awareness. But there is definitely an intersection. The Mobile Web Best Practices group will have to develop a set of guidelines and a checklist, akin to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines checklist, and in reviewing the WCAG checklist, it seems like much of it could be imported or referenced (subject, of course, to the consensus of the working group). The trick will be determining the intersection of mobility and accessibility. Surely, some of the WCAG guidelines will directly map on to Mobility requirements whereas some won’t. For example, careful use of color, or providing alternate visual cues when color is used as an interface element is important because of the huge number of red-green or otherwise color-blind people out there (a common rant subject for my friend Eric Snider — and by the way I’m glad to see there’s someone than I am about updating their blog). But is this strictly speaking a mobility requirement as well? I’m tempted to say “no,” whereas use of CSS as opposed to tables to support content layout is certainly applicable to Mobility as well as Accessibility. Tricky stuff.
I give up. I just don’t understand the kids these days.
So here at the W3C Advisory Committee meeting, there has been a lot of discussion on spam, and phishing and malware and viruses and lions and tigers, etc… and whether W3C ought to be doing anything in these areas. I think this is worthy discussion, but my personal Web Pet Peeve is actually much (I think) more straight forward to address. It’s sites that have a complicated start page which takes a little time to load, with a log-in form on the page. Either because of a script in the page or because of the browser’s own “smart” features, when you click in this form (usually a username and password box) to log in to go to the next page, you get half-way done and then poof! either what you’ve been typing disappears or is replaced with something else or is mangled in some way. FOR GOD SAKE, can’t the browser understand it’s not supposed to muck around in a text input field that I’m in the middle of typing into? Sheesh!
So here I am in beautiful Cannes, at the W3C Advisory Committee meeting and W3C 10 Europe event (where I had the honor of speaking along side Tim Berners-Lee and other notables). I find it slighly ironic that I’m unable to get a 3G signal here, in the location of the 3GSM world congress for the past few years (although the next one will be in Barcelona).
I suppose if I were really serious about the “Mobile Web,” I would start by making this site mobile friendly. Unfortunately, I tried to access it with my lovely new Sony Ericsson V800 and found it completely mobile non-friendly. I should, in theory, be able to rectify this using CSS media queries. More soon.
So on Sunday I went to something called the “Design Festa” at Tokyo Big Sight, an enormous expo center on the outskirts of the city. From what I understand, it’s a twice yearly event where hundreds of artists and designers from Tokyo come to display their wares, sell stuff, create art, etc… Everything from iron-work to painting to hand-made t-shirts to music was on display and/or on sale there. I got an artist to do this rendition of my two kids, Alex and Emily, from a picture I had stored in my camera. I’ll post some more pictures from the “Festa” soon.
Some anecdotal evidence of the shape of the Mobile Web in Japan:
- An advertisement with multiple URLs on it, each for access over a different carrier
- Every content provider has to code their service or application multiple times for different carriers (XHTML-MP, XHTML-Basic, CHTML, MML, etc…)
- Everyone is walking around using their mobile phone (no different than Europe, actually), but it seems to me that this is mostly for messaging
It seems there are some mobile Web problems in the land of the rising sun. The Mobile Web Initiative could help to tackle these problems by rallying the industry around specific profiles and standards.
So here I am in Tokyo — for WWW2005 conference and the launch of the Mobile Web Initiative. My initial impression: Tokyo is like New York on steroids. More soon.
I suppose as the owner of Torgo.com, I ought to have a brief explanation of who Torgo is. But honestly, I couldn’t possibly do it better than this guy who appears to know everything there is to know about Torgo, from the movie Manos, Hands of Fate. In fact, he may know a little bit too much. Creep-factor 10, captain?
So tomorrow I’m off to Boston for the W3C10 Symposium (which will be good fun) and the W3C Advisory Committee meeting (actual work). I’ve been doing Web (and before then publishing by email and FTP) since before there was a W3C — when an address with a “.com” was a rarity because most people connected to the Internet were at Universities or in the Military. But beyond all the old fogies recounting their Web war stories, I actually think this symposium is a good idea. Every so often, it’s important to look back at where you’ve been and how you got there, and I’m hoping W3C10 will be such an opportunity.