Sometimes, I must admit, I get a little nostalgic. When I saw this video, it made me remember those early days of the internet, and how much has and hasn't changed.
(Thanks to Motherboard for sharing the video)
I remember the first time I got online via Prodigy at my friend Aaron's house. It was magical. I was talking to people all over the world from that house in Frederick, MD. It seems like some of the magic has gone out of the internet in the intervening years, and some old ideas are cropping back up.
Are iOS and Android the new AOL?
Before I dig into this, I have to say, I love my iPad. It has changed the way I work, play, and read, but I have a few concerns about the future.
As an entertainment designer, I spend an increasing chunk of my time thinking about how to improve the delivery of my fiction and this site. Brian and I have talked about making an App available on iOS and Android, and have looked into ways to raise the funds to hire a developer... but why?
I read most of my content of the web via Flipboard and Reeder now. That is a very new thing. Grant it, they pull in stories from my Twitter, Facebook, and Google Reader accounts, so why don't I use those sites directly anymore?
It is just easier (and prettier) to load up my Apps. I am a little scared that we are seeing the the re-AOL-ing of the internet.
In the early years, access to the internet was metered, and the way the average users (I'm not talking about geeks like us), accessed content was through AOL, MSN, or other ISP portal. Content had to be made specially for these services, wich took resource away from content.
I remember writing java script, dhtml, and other sometimes unique scripts so those early sites would work well with these portasl. Pages had to be coded specifically for Internet Explorer and Netscape. Some tags worked on one and not the other and it was a nightmare. I spent most of my time coding and not working on content.
Now, Chrome is going the way of Internet Explorer, away from standards, and we are looking for a way to code specialized versions of our content for the iPad and Android. Deja vu.
Google fan boys will probably take exception with my comparison of Chrome to IE, but that is what they did specifically with the new HTML 5 <video> tag. It allowed you to add a type and codec so the browser would know what to play. Google decided to make the video tag default to a video format they own rather than allow the tag to work as intended. That is outside of the web standard, and a bad move.
Content should be Free
That is free as in speech. With all of these new form factors emerging, they should comply to web standards so content creators can make their content once and display it on everything.
Apple and Google should both offer WYSIWYG app kits to allow content creators to make apps with ease. It should be an option. If I have the money and interest to hire a developer and start the expensive and time consuming process of developing an app, then so be it, but if having an app continues down the path of being a necessity, they are pushing smaller content creators out of the market before they get a chance to prove themselves.
Everything's great if you are NewsCorp and can work with Apple to make a native app to display your content, but that is something that will not be available to the vast majority of publishers.
Open the Systems
The power of the internet is that it allows anyone who wants to speak out to be heard. But I receive more emails every week from people bemoaning that fact that we don't have an iPad app yet. As an avid iPad User, I understand where they are coming from. I just don't want to see us return to the limited options we had back in the days of the old AOL.
What do you think? Am I blowing this whole thing out of proportion? Leave a comment and let me know.