The future of mobile development

I am more and more convinced with each (iPad) passing (iPhone 4.0) day (Twitter/Tweetie) that developing on any mobile platform that is vendor-specific is a waste of time and resources.  Apple believed this, Palm believed this, Google still believes this.

Native code is sexy for sure but unless you're ready to bond yourself to an entire ecosystem it will all come crumbling down at the first sight of monetization.  Either you'll have to recreate for each platform or play inside the walled gardens.

In the mobile arena, this means HTML5, WebGL, and WebSockets will be the power players.  The browser is the gateway.  My advice to any would-be mobile developers is to learn those technologies and flourish.

I'm Really Worried About What Apple Is Trying To Do With The iPad

the iPad a fatal distraction for publishers. They are deluding themselves into thinking that the future lies in their past.

Will the iPad start a consumption-oriented revolution? Part of what makes web content so enticing, especially over the past few iterations (web2.0, anyone), is the interactive nature of it. Will the iPad push us back to sedentary mode again? Is that why the publishers are so willing to embrace it? It gives them control again.

Google is pushing in that way too, with Google Reader Play, which resembles channel surfing at its best. Deliver me rapid fire buckshot of content in the hope that some of it sticks (and gets shared). Google is in bed with the advertisers so I can see their interest in keeping that cash cow well-fed and comfortable. I hope we don't see a big fracture of content producers again. Just as blogging, both traditional long-form and high speed micro-tweets, have caught up (and some say, passed) old-media outlets. Now we'll have iPad vs the current new media.

Of instant messages and second phonelines

I spend most of my workdays in front of a computer and interact with people a desk away or a few states away in the same fashion. Usually through an IM or email. As a software developer (nee knowledge worker), I detest anything that breaks my concentration. My biggest obstacle on any given day are the various distractions that interrupt my workflow. Some are self-inflicted but necessary like coffee breaks to refill, bathroom breaks to relax, and twitter breaks to refresh. Others are brought on by day-to-day business needs like answering questions, code reviews, defending against zombie attacks.

Either way, these distractions add up to significant delays so I've tried to limit my exposure to them by various methods. Wearing headphones (with or without audible content) to deter the drive-by Q&A sessions. Scheduling all my meetings at the beginning or end of day a la Paul Graham's maker's schedule. Disabling all distracting notfications for IM, email, and phone; no pop-ups or ringing for me, please.

A recent article on CrunchGear made me think about how differently we communicate today than just a few years ago. Today, IM, SMS, and email rule. Telephone conversations and face-to-face meetings have declined by a similar degree. Why is that? I attribute it to the increase I knowledge workers and the habits they keep.  The former communication methods are all asynchronous meaning we fire off our message and we may or may not get back an immediate response. Actual conversations, whether by phone or by person, require the relative full attention of both parties. Synchronous communications are more likely to break the knowledge workers' workflow.

I abhor actually talking on the phone to most people now. It prevents me from multitasking and disrupts my train of thought. The only thing I find worse is to call someone on a landline now. Why do we have shared phonelines any more? Calling someone's "home" line is treacherous at best. Chances are, they have a family, you aren't going to catch the right person. Then you have to interrupt at least two persons' workflow. God forbid, the person you're trying to reach isn't available. Then you have to "leave a message." The chances of said message reaching the appropriate person accurately and in an actionable amount of time is slim to none. Remember the one rich kid we all knew back in middle/high school that had their own phoneline? That was so awesomely exclusive. Now every kid has at least one mobile phone. We also had "long distance" phone service that cost 10¢ per minute if we were lucky. Even more exotic was the assisted "person-to-person" calls where the third-party operator would find the actual perso I wanted to speak with lest I waste my time and dimes.

I wonder what communication advances we'll see in the next decade. The ironic thing is that the worse our communication skills are, the more connected we are. I have 4 different telephone numbers, 5 instant messaging accounts, and 6 different email addresses.