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Tablets Are Waiting For The Web

In the very interesting space of punditry, some have been talking about what tablets need to really take off. At Signal Vs. Noise, Ryan writes:

Tablets are the best way to read, and Newsstand is the equivalent of RSS for non-geeks. Hopefully apps like The Magazine inspire somebody to make this happen.

Then, at Rumproarious, Alex Kessinger takes a different, but not contrary view that what tablets need is what amounts to a compatible version of Google Reader.

There is a huge difference between a link posted on the web and when it hits the feed; the feed drives way more traffic. It illustrates the effect of aggregators, especially when considering early blogs.

I really had to think about this. There is something not quite complete about these arguments.

The idea of “non-geek” notwithstanding (every non-geek is a geek-in-waiting), this seems to really sit on the reading of information on the web. In the iOS-only world, having this application can certainly achieve some of that, but what about other devices that have no hope of seeing those developed  Even worse, applications on mobile devices tend to trade off with pagination and other visual elements to make things pretty. The result is that you can’t possibly read the kind of volume  that a Bloglines or Google Reader gives you.

The talk of “how” blogging became popular is most certainly connected to how easy it became to blog, and consume those blogs – but they were (and are) all still just the web in it’s current form. Today so much talk is about making everything “mobile first” or making websites “responsive” to mobile reading. It’s all wrong.

We need to take away, not add. Sites like blogs and other too-busy web based articles need to be “every device, always”. No, let me rephrase that, let’s say they need to be “everything only”. In much the same way as a simple text file being served on the web is pretty much view-able by anything (go ahead, try it), we need to make all sites view-able naively exactly the same way on all devices, tablets included. The web is the best hope for this.

Addendum

The World Wide Web Consortium generally recommends a “One Web” approach:

“One Web means making, as far as is reasonable, the same information and services available to users irrespective of the device they are using. However, it does not mean that exactly the same information is available in exactly the same representation across all devices.”

One of of the more important manifestations of this would be ensuring all content is accessible (and share-able  by way of the same link, not a link mangled after being redirected somewhere.

Also, a research firm name Mobify has offered up an eBook online (read it here) that discusses some mobile development strategies. Much of it seems geared to eCommerce content, but it may be useful.