About the decline of the mobile web

I linked to an article discussing the decline of the mobile web yesterday, and for the most part, I agree with it. Mobile is overtaking the web.

John Gruber doesn’t agree:

I think Dixon has it all wrong. We shouldn’t think of the “web” as only what renders inside a web browser. The web is HTTP, and the open Internet. What exactly are people doing with these mobile apps? Largely, using the same services, which, on the desktop, they use in a web browser. Plus, on mobile, the difference between “apps” and “the web” is easily conflated.

In essence, he claims that Internet-connected native apps and websites alike are all part of the web.

I don’t know if I agree. Being able to navigate from document to document is what made the World Wide Web popular; hyperlinks are such fundamental part of the web that for me, they are what define it. You can’t link to elements of a mobile app. You can’t link from one app to another. Well, you can in some cases, but it isn’t something that is there by design. So no, apps and websites aren’t both part of the web. Apps are connected, but there is a distinction to be made here.

We should celebrate, not bemoan, that the web has diversified beyond the confines of browser tabs and the limits of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Let websites, rendered in browsers, be good at what they’re good at. (And websites are perfect for so many things.) But let native apps be good at what they’re good at, too. Like water flowing downhill, users gravitate to the best experiences. Saying that we’re worse off for the popularity of native mobile apps is like saying water should run uphill.

No argument here—native apps offer mobile users a better experience. But instead of taking this as something set in stone is idiocy. Why not concentrate on making the performance of browsers better? Instead of thinking “nothing is faster than a native app”, why don’t we think outside of the box? What if websites were served as native, compiled software that runs locally? What if JavaScript wasn’t the only client-side language? What if HTML, CSS and JavaScript were treated as first-class citizens at the hardware level? These may be crazy ideas, but breakthroughs often originate from crazy ideas.

The decline of the mobile web

This is a worrisome trend for the web. Mobile is the future. What wins mobile, wins the Internet. Right now, apps are winning and the web is losing.

I wouldn’t say it’s all doom and gloom, but this article does bring up some good points.

Big data: are we making a big mistake?

“Big data” has arrived, but big insights have not. The challenge now is to solve new problems and gain new answers – without making the same old statistical mistakes on a grander scale than ever.

A great article on the pitfalls.

Bugsnag

Bugsnag detects crashes in every popular programming language and framework, automatically collecting useful diagnostics to help you resolve your errors quickly.

Starts at $29 per month (5 users, 5 projects).

CERN to switch to Comic Sans

Following the viral success of ATLAS spokesperson Fabiola Gianotti’s presentation on 4 July 2012 announcing the discovery a new particle consistent with the Higgs boson, Gillies scrambled a team of emergency typographers to work towards the change. Working in shifts night and day for over a year, they deconstructed Gianotti’s presentation at the very tiniest level to study its fundamental structure. They then came up with a sophisticated statistical model to separate the font from the background content.

Not all April Fools jokes are worth sharing. This one most definitely is.

The Last of Us: Left Behind

The problem with Left Behind is that it is hard to discuss without spoiling much of what makes it special. Suffice it to say that for me, it was in many ways even more enjoyable than the original campaign. Brilliant.

★★★★★

Hack

Hack is a programming language for HHVM that interoperates seamlessly with PHP. Hack reconciles the fast development cycle of PHP with the discipline provided by static typing, while adding many features commonly found in other modern programming languages.

Hack provides instantaneous type checking via a local server that watches the filesystem. It typically runs in less than 200 milliseconds, making it easy to integrate into your development workflow without introducing a noticeable delay.

This is definitely one to watch. I love the concept of gradually typed languages.

Creator Yu Suzuki shares the story of Shenmue’s development

“The biggest challenge we encountered was project management,” Suzuki said. “By the end, we had 300 people [working] and no experience on such a large project. At the time there were no project management tools…so instead we made a job order sheet that was a list of action items in Excel. Because we kept testing, the items did not decrease. At one point we had 10,000 of them.

A good read.

How Statisticians Could Help Find That Missing Plane

What happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, and where is it now?

Statistical tools can’t answer those questions any more definitively than Malaysian officials have. Yet they can help refine and focus the hunt for the plane and for a solution to the deepening mystery of its March 8 disappearance.

Includes a good basic example of bayesian inference.

Programming in ArnoldC

Although the one-liners of Arnold Schwarzenegger are fairly well known the true semantics of the uttering is yet to be understood. This project tries to discover new meanings from the Arnold movies with the means of computer science.

Here’s a quick example:

IT'S SHOWTIME
HEY CHRISTMAS TREE IDIOT
YOU SET US UP @NO PROBLEMO
BECAUSE I'M GOING TO SAY PLEASE IDIOT
TALK TO THE HAND "BECAUSE THE FACE AINT LISTENING"
YOU HAVE NO RESPECT FOR LOGIC
YOU HAVE BEEN TERMINATED

This is funnier than it has any right to be.