2015-12-14

Rage against the mobile

The conversation around the previous post about facets led me to investigate a bit more about mobile, and what it means for the web of text. This is something I'd never really considered so far, and thanks to +Aaron Bradley for attracting my attention on it. Bear in mind I'm just an old baby-boomer who never adopted mobile devices so far, touchscreens drive me crazy, and I still wonder how people can write anything beyond a two words sentence on such devices etc. To be honest I do have a mobile phone but it is as dumb as can be (see below). It's a nice light, small object, feeling a bit like a pebble in my pocket but I actually barely use it (by today standards), just to quick calls and messages. Most of the time I don't even carry it along with me, let alone check messages, to the despair of my family, friends and former colleagues. But they eventually get used to it.


To make it short, I do not belong to the mobile generation, and my experience of the Web has been from the beginning, is, and is bound to remain a desk activity, even if the desktop has become a laptop along the years. I'm happy with my keyboard and full screen, so why should I change? And when the desk is closed, I'm glad to be offline and unreachable. I wish and hope things can stay that way as long as I'm able to read, think and write.

With such a long disclaimer, what am I untitled to say about mobile? Only quote what others who seem to know better have already written. In this article among others I read about the so-called mobile tipping point, this clear and quite depressing account of the consequences of mobile access on Web content.
The prospect for people who like to read and browse and sample human knowledge, frankly, is of a more precipitous, depressing decline into a black-and-white world without nuance [...] The smaller screens and less nimble navigation on phones lend themselves to consuming directory, video, graphic and podcast content more easily that full sentences. If the text goes much beyond one sentence, it is likely to go unread just because it looks harder to read than the next slice of information on the screen. [...] Visitors who access information via a mobile device don’t stay on sites as long as they do when using a desktop computer. So if you’re counting on people using their smartphones or tablets to take the same deep reading dive into the wonders of your printed or normal Web page messages, you’re probably out of luck.  
Given the frantic efforts of Web content providers to keep audience captive, all is ready for a demagogic vicious circle of simplification. Short sentences, more and more black-and-white so-called facts. If this is where the Web is heading to, count me out. I won't write for mobile more than I use mobile to read and write.

I still have hope, though, looking at this blog analytics. Over 80% of the traffic seems to still come from regular (non mobile) browsers and OS. But I guess many of you visitors have also a mobile (smart) phone you otherwise use. I wonder if and how you manage to balance which device you use for which usage. Are you smart enough to use mobile for apps, and switch to proper desk screens to take the time to read (and write)? I'm curious to know.