One take-away from last week's Mobilism conference that I did not get to ruminate on during's fine panel was just the bare fact that responsive design has arrived. Last year's Mobilism was full of pitches for responsive design and explanations of why responsive design was a good idea. This year's conference speakers mostly started from a base assumption: we are designing responsively. Now what? How do we do it? What best practices should we use? What anti-paterns exist? How does it apply to images, to animation, to touch, etc…? For those in the Web design community this may be old news, but I think it's notable that we've had that shift, from justification to implementation of responsive, in the last year.
I think this is more evidence for what I've been saying for the past few months: the "Mobile Web" is no longer a thing. That might sound strange coming from someone who helped to develop the W3C Mobile Web Best Practices, but where we once said "mobile Web" we now need to be saying "responsive design" and we need to be thinking about a much wider range of devices and input / output modalities than simply mobile phones. (For example, gaming consoles, aspointed out in her Mobilism presentation.) Simultaneously we need to realize that the Web is a mobile medium – by some counts, a majority if Web usage is now happening from devices we are counting as "mobile."
I don't get how so many people can be so vehemently opposed to the QR code, and not only that, but that people somehow view the QR code as being a weapon of "marketing." In my mind, the QR code is about openness. You may not like the looks of it, but it is a "democratizing" technology. It's open – anyone can create one – and it can point to a URL, which is itself an open pointer to anywhere on the Web. In contrast, other similar mechanisms (e.g. NFC) are usually closed and proprietary in nature. It actually reminds me of the equally misguided negative reaction to the URL itself in the early days of the Web.
Glad to see that this document I had worked on during my elected term on the TAG (with #blogthis, and ) has been published. This document is trying to clarify some issues around Web publishing and linking that seem to keep cropping up in legal and policy discussions. In the process, it offers up some (hopefully) easy-to-understand definitions of pieces of Web technology. Although my proposed language on enshrining a "right to link" doesn't seem to have made it into the final draft, I think it's still a good piece of work.
This weekend I built a simple temperature sensor with #arduino and got it sending information to #cosm via the #gsm shield, using the #bluevia SIM for data. Even after a year working on this project, this was actually the first time I was able to test the whole thing end to end myself, as a user would do (including purchasing the shield and the Arduino kit itself through online store, activating the SIM and adding balance to it, etc…). The results can be seen below and here: https://cosm.com/feeds/121725 where you can get an updated feed and graph of the temperature in my living room. It’s a pretty simple project but especially since I have been swanning around London telling people how easy it would be to build a connected temperature sensor with this shield, it was gratifying to see that I was right. :) The project uses the Cosm libraries and is built on top of the Cosm example code, but uses the GSM libraries instead of the Ethernet shield ones. In putting it together I realized one of the differences between writing an IoT application for the GSM shield (as opposed to Ethernet or Wifi) will be keeping data volume to a minimum. Also the Cosm example code just activates the network and keeps it active even when the Arduino is just sitting idle, whereas on GSM you’d want to connect and disconnect, especially if you are on battery power.
So I read this article with some interest this morning on the Tube. Reading it requires subscription or sign-up (it was one of my 8 free articles a month – I’m not sufficiently motivated to subscribe, I’m afraid, though I’m a big fan of the FT WebApp.) For those non-subscribers, allow me to summarize one of the key points: forced unbundling of telecoms services in the EU (e.g. making companies like BT rent out their infrastructure to competitors at a regulated rate) has brought about great benefits for consumers (e.g. lower prices and more choice for broadband) but at the cost of these companies’ cash flow compared to their US counterparts who are not subject to this kind of regulation. AND (here’s the key part) therefore European telecoms companies have had less money to invest in network upgrades.
Now – at the risk of channeling Cartwright from Time Bandits – why, if that’s the case, do I perceive that we have much faster broadband Internet speeds and choice of providers available in Europe than are generally available in US. In London, I have 80 megabit downlink / 15 megabit uplink to my house! And although I am a BT customer I could choose from a number of service providers who (though the magic of local loop unbundling) could provide similar services across the same wires. This is because BT have been investing in rolling out “fibre to the cabinet” (fttc) and fibre to the premises (fttp) technologies and then turning around and leasing that capacity through their wholesale division. My parents in New Haven, Connecticut (not exactly a technological backwater), meanwhile, are stuck with 1.5 megabit downlink from one monopoly provider as the only DSL option available to them.
So what’s going on here? Is there really a tidal wave of broadband innovation happening in the US and I just don’t perceive it? From where I’m standing, the regulated unbundling seems to have worked well for both for competition and innovation in the broadband space. Am I missing something?
[see the comments thread on Google+]
Disruption isn't always good and innovation doesn't always make the world better. I am a big fan of dystopian visions of future technology – currently typified by the wonderful "Black Mirror" series on Channel 4 in the UK. (If you had an implant that recorded every moment of your life for you to relive at your leisure, would that really be a good thing? Cf. Google Glass.) I think it's our role as technologists, strategists, architects, product designers, and so on to help steer us away from these kinds of dystopian scenarios. Just because something can be done does not mean it necessarily should be done, and just because someone poses an objection to or points out a risk of a new technology, that does not make that person a luddite.
The amazing image (http://www.businessinsider.com/vatican-square-2005-and-2013-2013-3) shared across social media of the difference between the crowd in front of the Papal conclave in 2005 vs 2013 (everyone in the 2013 shot is holding up a phone) is stunning and looks like it was ripped from a Black Mirror episode. Is it better that people are increasingly experiencing the world around them second hand, through a lens and a screen?
XKCD has hit the nail on the head with this one. Listen people: if you use a numeric date notation, it can be ambiguous because different countries use different order of information: eg day/month/year or month/day/year. The only non-ambiguous numeric notation of date is YYYY-MM-DD. I find it stupefying that in this modern age, this age of a global Web, people are still using these ambiguous date formats on their Web sites. Maybe as an American living in the UK, and having launched a UK version of a US dot-com, I'm especially sensitized to this issue? The most recent example I've come across is the TechCrunch events listings side bar – and TechCrunch is (supposed to be) a global brand? Anyway – great to see someone else is as irked by this as I am. #petpeeve #blogthis #iso8601
My brief notes from last night's MobileMonday London demo night have been posted up on the #blogthisblog today.
Some predictions from The Next Web on what Web design trends we will see in 2013. I agree with all except no. 9 (which is actually at odds with no. 1). I agree people will be spending more money on responsive (Web) design in 2013 precisely because they realize it is more versatile than replacing web sites with apps. That's not to say that apps won't also flourish in 2013, but they play a different role than mobile web sites. For a concrete example, when I viewed this article off a link shared off of Facebook, on my iPad, it came through in a web view that was not very well suited to my device (buttons too small, not very well suited to touch, etc…) The answer to this would be a responsive design, not a fancy Next Web app or iMagazine which would a content silo therefore not well integrated into sharing off of social networks, etc…
By the way, some of these predictions (e.g. more social sharing) have already come true. #blogthis