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Diversity of Platforms on the Web

May 24, 2010

Ah, the good-ole-days of 2005.  If you can, stretch your memory back to a time when, for the briefest of moments, there was really only one place to go to for information sharing – a web browser sitting on your computer.  And even that was pretty straightforward.  There was IE and there was Mozilla … and that was really about it.  Let me tell you, for web developers like me, that was terrific.  But then a change started to appear, and today it has grown into a fundamental shift in computing in general.  We no longer work only from a desktop computer sitting on our desk – instead we work from a multitude of devices, each filling a niche in our daily information-gathering needs.  Our cell phones became web browsers, and then they become something more – specific, fully realized platforms for new types of entertainment and information sharing.  The iPad only extends that idea to the next step.  Heck, I’ve even been known to use my Wii to order a pizza when I felt too lazy to climb the stairs and use my PC.  And browsers?   These days we have at least five major browsers to consider: IE, Safari, Firefox, Chrome and Opera, and let’s not forget that many of these have mobile versions as well.  From a web development perspective, things are as disconnected as they’ve ever been.

The strange thing is, this time it feels like a good thing.  The last time I remember contending with anything like this type of diversity in my client’s information needs, we were trying to figure out a way to get every major browser to understand the same JavaScript commands, but this is nothing like that.  Rather than working towards a unified, one-size-fits all solution, the world has started expecting solutions that are specifically geared to each platform, and this expectation suggests that a major change in the Web itself is fast approaching.

What will that change be?  Only time will tell, but people have been predicting for decades that, eventually, the Internet as we know it will cease to exist, and will be replaced with a more segmented model, with specific “sub-Internets” created for specific purposes.  I read an article on Financial Times the other day about the new “Paywall” architecture being used by The Times, which will specifically block Google’s attempts to index news stories, and only allow paying users access to its stories.  I’m very interested to see if this works financially – that is, if the consumer base is ready to allow it to work.  My guess, though, is that it will; that this new diversity in computing has prepared us, the consumers, for a different approach to how information is shared.  It sure will be fun to watch and find out.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 24, 2010 9:14 pm

    Really? Seriously? Order a pizza from your Wii? lol

  2. June 21, 2010 12:54 am

    I’ve recently started a blog, the information you provide on this site has helped me tremendously. Thank you for all of your time & work.

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