Thursday, October 21, 2010

Working Together for Mobile 2.0 (or 4.0)

Brian Fling's Mobile 2.0 thing is not quite a manifesto yet, and as he points out a lot in the document, has not even gotten the community traction that it needs, but is still something I mostly agree with. And, want to help with. I think things are mostly trending better. Worse a few places, but mostly better. I am thrilled with new things like Mozilla's Open Web App Ecosystem, so much so I talked about how much we needed one a week before it was shown off. Now, I'm gonna talk specifically to some of the points Brian makes in his document. And try to help with a couple of them.
A Mobile Web Coalition/Task Force: All my attempts to create a Mobile Web Coalition has failed since sending this email out. The problem is that no one has the time to invest in attacking such a hard problem. I’ve attempted to get corporate sponsors, but everything is just keen to do their own thing.
I have always agreed, and now that I'm applying for jobs, and am reviewing and trying to share what I made, I am annoyed how many are NDA restricted. It reminds me of Kim Lenox's post lamenting the good design of the iPhone because we all had many of these ideas already. And even aside from secret clients, I've worked for companies where you couldn't discuss anything. I once got smacked down for discussing on a UX forum information about the team that had been published in Business Week. This is all the antithesis of scientific exploration; we can't get far, much less consistent, without sharing, and collaborating. What am I doing to help? For several years now, I've been gathering up my mobile design elements (and other stuff, like touch guidelines, and type info) as a document, and sharing it with everyone as Mobile Design Elements. It includes a lot of components from deadly-secret projects, just pulled out of context and categorized so you can't figure out secret things. You can go get it from a page on my wiki there, where I share it alongside everyone else's stencils and templates. Use it as you see fit, share again, modify, etc.
Mobile Web Resource Site: Since the book came out last year it has sold pretty well, but I’ve still made no money from it, and all mobile inquiries that O’Reilly gets have been going to other authors. Looking back I would have been better off making all the text of the book free and public... but that is another story.
I agree we need one. I've been adding to a wiki of mobile resources for years under the Little Springs auspices. But no one else much did. And that is probably dead now anyway. What am I doing to help? I am one of those guys that O'Reilly is sending inquiries to. And (with Eric Berkman and some of our former interns) have been working on it pretty seriously for a month or so. It's just a patterns book, and it's general mobile, not just web, but I am trying to make it useful and well-researched. And most of all, part of our agreement with O'Reilly includes letting us put all the content on a wiki. So, I started a new one, and have added the whole outline, a dozen patterns (more every day) and a bunch of other resources: Please help. Or, don't contribute, but do feel free to use it so we at least all have the same language we work off. Since I am trying to write a book, and there's a deadline, try to be respectful of the info, and accept when we are jerks and cut off discussion in order to lock at least a version of a pattern, so we can move on. But do please help. I want this to be a community effort, so want to hear from you guys even if I disagree. And if you wondered about the name, it's mostly short and cool, but also because I think "2.0" is over used as hell. And if I think about it, I think we're in mobile 4.0. Explained slightly more at the home page for the whole site if you really care.
Mobile web zengarden:
I think even the desktop web is still missing the permanency and credibility of print design by having no big awards shows, or exhibit spaces. Mobile is far worse, due to the even speedier and broader variability of the devices. I am not sure the CSS ZenGarden approach is the way to go for this (and I'd like to see one less web-specific) but something is needed to let everyone see, to get good ideas (and preferably with implementation tricks shared also) and maybe a way to judge or rate for suitability, somehow.
Mobile 2.0 CSS Framework:
I know way too little about this one, so will leave it to others. I do worry a little about a major facet being so focused on the web. And not because I like apps. I like... everything. What about principles OS developers can follow? What about tools to encourage development of services, like SMS and location? Oh, and what about js libraries? And other plugin technologies, even for web alone?
I quoted Umair Haque in the final chapter of my book in his call for the Next Industrial Revolution and I’ll quote him again here...
There are days I almost hoping for someone to plot from their secret volcano base and take over the industry – even with something sorta crappy or restrictive – just so there's a single experience. Not just a single browser, but so interop becomes not an issue, and I can get location from the handset to the web, and... so forth. Way, way, way, too much stuff is locked out or restricted because of perceived quarterly returns, and I think everyone would be better off working together on standards. Clearly, none of us are CEOs and going to be able to go out on a limb (at least one strong enough the board won't fire us) and make this happen at any one company, much less across a whole chunk of the industry. So we need to start working, together, towards the goals Brian laid out. To work together, to gather ideas, to share them, to have goals as a community. And to talk about all these as a single community, so we speak the same language and start working together, instead of against each other.

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