I’m here at SXSW in Austin this week-end working on getting the word out on mobile widgets and mobile Web and talking about mobile web in the developing world on a panel on Tuesday. Meanwhile I’m using Qik to cover the conference and have some conversations with people here about mobile and other topics. Follow me on Qik or on Twitter to get updates and if you’re here in Austin, come by the Driskill hotel tonight at 5 for Betavine Beers West.

It’s that time again!  With 2008 in the bag, what will be the key themes for 2009 (as far things “mobile 2.0” go anyway). Alan Kay famously quipped that the best way to predict the future is to invent it. In that spirit: if I have anything to say about it, 2009 will bring with it increasing convergence between the mobile and Web communities. Right now, these communities are miles apart. I can attest to that because I’m often stuck in the middle of this clash of civilizations. I believe the mobile and Web ecosystems are going to converge, but a prerequisite for this to happen is that these communities need to converge. As long as mobile people only talk to other mobile people and Web people only talk to other Web people, there will be no convergence. At Mobile 2.0 in November, we successfully brought together these communities, at least in part, to talk about the future of both mediums. Watch out for more of this in 2009. Prediction two: mobile widgets and Web applications will rule the day.  W3C-standard Web widget platforms and downloadable widgets will proliferate and begin to eclipse the current proprietary platforms for downloadable mobile applications. This will be accompanied by increasingly capable Web and widgets platforms (with hooks into device capabilities and functions like the camera, location, etc…). Yes, there will be fragmentation in this space that will have to be reigned in. Nobody said reinventing the Web was easy. All the best for 2009!

I’m very excited to announce that on September 7th I will be co-presenting, with my friend and fellow Mobile Monday organizer C. Enrique Ortiz, a Barcamp-style event in Austin, Texas! The event will focus on mobile widgets and we are looking to bring in presenters and participants from all across the spectrum of companies and industry efforts involved in this burgeoning space. The event will feature a mix of structured and unstructured time, with both a program of speakers (to be announced but including speakers from OMTP and W3C) and an open schedule on which participants can write in their own sessions. If you’d like to attend, just put your name on the wiki (see link above). If you’d like to present in one of the pre-programmed slots, please get in touch with myself of Enrique.

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the mobile user experience, particularly the experience of the Web on the (typical) mobile device. I say “typical” because I’m not talking about the iphone here — I’m talking about the kind of mass-market device that billions of real users hold in their hands every day. Increasingly these are devices that are capable of a reasonable data services experience, but they are still not being used to their potential. What is the new user paradigm that will truly kick start the mobile Web? The essential innovation of the Web itself was putting together two existing technologies: hypertext and the Internet. Hypertext had been around for a while, in library-science and computer science circles and even in such products as Hypercard. Likewise, the Internet was around and widely used (mostly by academics and students) through well understood but essentially plain text paradigms such as FTP, Telnet and Gopher. Both these technologies by themselves were limited in their appeal. But somehow, layering Hypertext on top of the Internet (the Web) created something that was greater than the sum of its parts, and the Web as we know it was born. Yes, there were other factors at work in the birth of the Web but I believe it was the marriage of these two technologies that was the crucial factor. When we come to the mobile Web, however — that is, usage of the Web on devices which are intended to be used one-handed, often with a four-way rocker switch instead of …

Wanted: a New User Experience Metaphor for the Mobile Web Read more »