I’m sitting in the Korean Airlines lounge in Narita (Tokyo) airport after an 11 hour flight from London, watching a seemingly endless succession of JAL 747s taking off. When I arrived, there were no promised uniformed agents showing me the way. All the doors marked “international connections” were closed. In the end, I had to find my way through a very forbidding looking corridor and I was sure I was going to be turned back and possibly detained, but the airport staff I eventually found were very helpful and guided me to the checkpoint I needed for my connection. So, here I sit, stealing WiFi from the Northwest lounge next door. In an hour I’ll be on another flight on my way to Seoul, South Korea. I don’t speak a word of Korean, I have no local currency and I’ve most likely packed the wrong plug adapters. But on Monday morning, I will convene the next face to face meeting of the W3C Mobile Web Best Practices working group. After that, I plan to participate in an event called W3C Mobile Wednesday, a kind of east-meets-west open conference-style event bringing together people working in mobile Web standardization and those working on the sharp end of the mobile Web in Korea: people from manufacturers and operators, yes, but also entrepreneuers, bloggers, developers. It’s all thanks to the Korean Mobile Web 2.0 Forum, ETRI, and the people at the W3C offfice in Korea. I’m very excited about this event and this whole week. Besides making some real progress …

Why am I Going to Korea? Read more »

In June 2005, I wrote in these pages about an issue I knew we were going to have to grapple with in the Mobile Web Best Practices group that we were then kicking off. What is the intersection of mobility and accessibility when it comes to Web content? In fact, the initial approach and early work of the group that set the foundations for the Mobile Web Best Practices and for MobileOK was based on the work of the W3C’s Web Accessibility Initiative, and specifically the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines document. This week, we have followed up the release of MobileOK with a new document that details exactly that: describe the relationship between Mobile Web Best Practices and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines. Why should you care? If you’re trying to provide a service on the Web, you need to care about both accessibility and mobility. Both of these topics require some investment in skills, tools, and development time, so understanding where the overlaps are should greatly help to reduce development costs and time to market. At the end of the day, it’s also about maximizing the potential audience for your service, regardless of a user’s disability or the device used to access that service.

So unfortunately I wasn’t able to get out a timely blog post on Le Web 3 last week. Others have said a lot already but I just thought I’d write a brief post on it. It was a really great event and Loic and team deserve massive kudos for putting it together so well. First I have to rave about the near-flawless execution. The food deserves special mention because it was fantastic. Of course – what did I expect? This is Paris, after all. The production of the event itself, especially on the main stage, was fantastic, with a camera crew and staff that kept scurrying around keeping everything running smoothly. There was a fleet of BMW cars, sponsored by BMW, taking speakers back and forth from the conference site to the hotel. Very nice touch. The conference site itself was laid out very nicely with a chill-out “networking” lounge (where local artists were also working to add a bit of color). There were the usual sponsor booths but lots of space. There were a lot of people at this event but it never felt crowded. It was well produced but also managed to maintain a good community feel – no mean feat. The speaker line-up was really an all-star cast. I won’t go into too much detail here. I was lucky to be asked to participate on a panel on Mobile-Web convergence (chaired by Ouriel Ohayon) which was notable not only because I was on it, but because it was really well attended. I was …

Notes on Le Web 3 Read more »

I have a confession. I have been a user of “My Yahoo!” since its original release. I was one of the early beta users when beta really meant beta. For some reason that I cannot comprehend, as more sophisticated personalized Web portals and more recently RSS aggregators have developed, I have stayed with the tried and true My Yahoo! – a site that has essentially not changed its look and feel since the last century. Well watch out. My Yahoo! is back in beta, and it’s about time. What’s new? First of all, there are some outrageous new styles on offer, like this Leopard-print (incongruously named “faux fur” – as a colleague pointed out, why do they have to call it “faux fur” when it’s on a computer?). Unfortunately, many of the styles on offer are not very readable, and readability of text is pretty important in an application like this. It also offers a reader pane built into the application so you can read full blog entries (for those that publish a full feed) right in My Yahoo! This, and the UI tweaks are probably the nicest features. The other bits, such as a page-dominating animated ad (see upper-left-hand-corner) I am finding a little hard to swallow. Even as a long time, user I was about to give up and move to Google Reader, Netvibes or Pageflakes. The new release is keeping my attention. I’ll definitely give it a spin around the block, but I’m thinking that what they’ve delivered, feature-wise, may be too little …

Pimp My Yahoo? Read more »

I just spoke at Mobile Internet World here in Boston (as part of the W3C Mobile Web Standards track). Being part of this event brought me back to the first “Internet World” conference I ever attended in, wait for it, 1993 in New York City. I had been invited up there because my magazine, Quanta. At the time, the Web was a fringe at best. The event was meager, at best, but there was a definitely a sense that something important was happening. Mobile Internet World, in Boston in 2007, was considerably more impressive, but yet I had the same feeling of excitement. People were coming to this W3C session to learn about mobile Web standards and development. This crowd was not mobile industry people – I did not get the idea that I was preaching to the choir. I think that’s signifigant in the “mainstreaming” of the Mobile Internet. I’m interested to see if I get the same vibe at Future of Mobile tomorrow in London.

The Web 2.0 Summit had an awful lot of content that didn’t really have much to do with … well … the Web. Besides the whole 700mhz spectrum issue, there was an awful lot of empasis on green tech. Now – I know green is cool. I have no issues with green stuff. However, it doesn’t seem to me there is much overlap between green tech and Web 2.0 — or rather if there is it wasn’t being explored at the Web 2.0 Summit. Was this tendency towards scope creep because there wasn’t enough to talk about at Web 2.0? I don’t think so. For example, the program could have tried to tackle the thorny issues around privacy and social networks, made even more accute by the proliferation of location-aware systems. There are about a hundred topics like this that should have been delved into in more detail. Instead what we got was a very uneven program with some really good bits and some material that frankly seemed more like advertorial. For example, the panel on the future of TV featured a very long presentation and demo by the CEO of Current.tv. Mike Volpi from Joost seemed a bit bemused by the whole thing and as much as said “well – I’m here to talk, not to demo Joost.” The conversation that ensued was quite interesting but could have gone more in-depth and featured more players as well (how about Daniel Graf from Kyte.tv)? In short, I wanted more debate, less pitch.

I started the week with Mobile 2.0. Rudy De Waele and Mike Rowehl posted great summaries of that event with lots of links to coverage all over the Web which I won’t replicate here. Suffice to say: it was a great day. My one complaint was that I don’t think we served the developer community very well. Next time, we may need to expand the event into multiple tracks and get some real developer interest topics going. As for the Web 2.0 conference which is just closing down today, it has been a mixed bag, but on balance I actually think it was better than last year. Lots of the conference has been focusing on APIs and the whole “Web as a platform” concept, which I think is a key area of innovation in the Web. We’re already seeing how efforts like Amazon Web Services and Facebook’s APIs are creating waves of innovation and that’s only accelerating. I found Facebook’s announcement on allowing users to export their data particularly interesting. Openness like this will be the trend for social networks moving forward and Facebook has clearly decided to be a part of this disruption. Devil is in the details, of course. Of course, the mobile content at the summit has been very superficial and disappointing. The panel on mobile social media could have been interesting but it was a little too much Nokia-focused (how could it not be as it was sponsored and organized by Nokia and featured Anssi as a panelist). It still could have …

[Mobile|Web] 2.0 Week: From Mobility to Semantics Read more »

From this picture, the turn-out for my talk might look pretty small. And it was. But I was actually impressed that this many people managed to find the room which was tucked up away from the main conference. In general, this feels like an event that should be a lot bigger than it is. I can’t help but feel that this is due to the extremely high ticket price. On the positive side, there are some real developers here and real exciting stuff being presented, such as the Laszlo presentation on the use of their toolkit to build mobile Web apps. The participants that are here are here to learn and are asking good questions as well. One delegate commented that many of the presentations were little more than sales pitches. After sitting through some of them (especially from Adobe and Microsoft) I have to agree. So I was in the “iPhone” track of this conference. However, my message was “it’s not all about the iPhone – develop for one Web.” This message was well received. I was expecting the room to be filled with iPhone devotees. On the contrary. People seemed very receptive to this message.

So while I was kicking around in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island last week, I was delighted to have been able to meet up with my good friend (and Mobile Monday London Irregular) Margaret Gold. Turns out Margaret was in town for the weekend for her parents’ anniversary. It was a true “Jaiku moment” – a completely unplanned meet-up that only happened because I had written about my itinerary on Jaiku. Now, social networking services can often result in serendipitous events in the real world, but the mobile-focused nature of Jaiku (the fact, in this case, that I could keep a continuous Jaiku thread going through my trip using only my Nokia N73) and the tendency of mobile social services to focus on location and proximity tend to accentuate this feature. There’s also a lesson to learn about privacy here. In the past, it’s been quite taboo to reval publicly that you’re going to be away from home (someone might break into your house!) But social media like Jaiku (or Facebook or whatever) changes our perception of what information should be private and public. In this case, disclosing private information into the public sphere led to a meeting with a good friend and some good discussion. Was that worth the potential risk of disclosing this private information? I think it was.

“By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.” Well, thumb-surfers the world over took a step closer to being able to experience rich Mobile Web applications last week with the release of the Web Integration Compound Document (WICD — pronounced wicked). I wrote about WICD in InformIT almost two years ago. It’s taken that long to shake out the bugs in the specification. In the mean time, a lot has happened on the mobile Web front, but the WICD specification is more important than ever. Why? Because it promises a predictable environment for creating rich Web applications across browser implementations that integrate rich vector-based graphics and animations that can scale to different screen sizes and layouts. It’s like Ajax on SVG steroids. Opera already provides partial support in Opera Mobile (and has committed full support), but in order to truly deliver on that promise, it needs to be deployed across multiple browser platforms. Now that it has gone to “Candidate Recommendation” stage in the W3C, it will have that chance.