mobile context

Yesterday I mentioned I traded some emails with the CTO of the .mobi email. Here is the last email of the discussion. My reply is in full, though it might lack a little context. ;) James is arguing that the .mobi TLD provides context. I disagree, read on:

On 2007-03-06T10:25-0500 James G Pearce wrote:
> 1) I expect softdrink.com to provide me with information about the
> softdrink company (chairman's statements, history of the company,
> financial reports, press packs, how-to-be-a-reseller etc).
> 2) I expect softdrink.mobi to tell me where the nearest vending machine
> is. Nothing more.

When I go to any page with any device I want to presented with what I am
looking for straight away, right? Unfortunately nothing works that way!

This why we have navigation mechanisms such as search and more recently
things like online bookmarks, maps and tagging.

> 2) I expect luxurycar.mobi to tell me what that red flashing light
> means, and where the nearest service centre is. Nothing more.

That’s more than a mobile context. You need a special context for that
red flashing light. Perhaps a .breakdown TLD is required? ;)

> What sort of user-agent is smart enough to turn 1) into 2) for those two
> simple examples?

Many UAs have integrated search nowadays. That’s a start.

> If Opera could convert web pages on the fly from German to English,
> would I buy all my goods from http://amazon.de? No, of course not. I
> could choose to, but not by default. I want to “tell” Amazon that I’m in
> the UK, right? Since the pricing, products and deliveries suit my
> geographical context.

Well strictly speaking there is no need for amazon.de. They could filter
by lang markup (which is usually wrong mind) or more commonly IP.
Actually geo-IP sucks if you live in the UK and use satellite internet
from Italy, but I digress. Many Website have a sensible URL structure
like apple.com/uk or uk.someservice.com. Buying a TLD for each country
you do business in, is quite well established to be silly with the
clueful.

> (I know you know this – after all, you have a .fi TLD web site.
> Something, presumably, you have chosen in order to show allegience to
> the Finnish context.)

iki.fi provide a good email redirection service. I have no allegiance to
the Finnish context I am afraid.

> But thousands of people do. By catalysing the mobile web, we can make
> the whole industry/ecosystem thrive. Since you have a passion for the
> medium, I assume you yourself will be pleased if we succeed.

That’s like arguing that I would like to have seen WAP succeed. I want
to see the right technology succeed.

> If we don’t, it a) won’t be because we didn’t try, and b) because market
> forces have dictated that we were wrong. Fair enough. No-one’s going to
> die.

No one might die, though a lot of energy can and will be mis-spent in
the .mobi domain. Precious man years. :)

I hope that’s clear why I don’t think “context” should be provided by TLDs. It’s a poor argument though it would actually be a good situation if .mobi was just about “context”. The big problem is that it encourages device dependent Web pages. The discussion actually started when I commented directly to ready.mobi that ready.mobi doesn’t work in ready.mobi. They recommended I try a special mobile version http://ready.mobi/m which will be served in future once it detects a mobile device.

NO. Device dependent content and delivery is not on. It is extremely difficult to detect capabilities of a device and is it redundant for Web content creators to maintain different device dependent Web pages of essentially the same resource.

I’m for a device independent Web, a united Web, free of device discrimination.

Advertisement

If you like this, you might like the stateless Web kiosk software I develop. Webconverger typically replaces Windows on PCs and is deployed in public and business environments for ease of deployment and privacy. Once installed it auto-updates making it painless to maintain. Try it where you exclusively use the only viable open platform... the Web!