Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Mobile Development

So iPhone developers aren't happy with Apple's approval process. Well, a handful at least. Sounds similar to the XNA initiative with Microsoft's Xbox Live Arcade. Naturally, these things take time to work out all the rough edges, and with all the apps that are being introduced to the iTunes app store, if it were truly in a bad state there would be a five alarm fire rather than the smouldering wisps of smoke that are occurring now.

But the long-view of these kinds of closed systems have a downside to compliment (or to the detriment of) the benefits. Closed systems must be heavily moderated and unless they become very profitable they become a liability to the company who holds the keys. In a competitive market, this isn't always a good thing because someone could come along and offer a better way for people to build and grow within a similar framework.

Enter Android. An open source operating system for mobile devices (currently just one, T-Mobile's G1, but 2009 will see a greater number of manufacturers adding the OS to their repertoire). Similar to the iTunes app store, Android has a marketplace that anyone can enter (for a $20 fee) and provide not only applications for any device that the OS lives on (as opposed to iTunes apps, which are limited to the iPhone) but since the OS itself is open, that means that people can extend the functionality of almost anything the system can do (networking code and drivers are not accessible). 

If developers are complaining that Apple is taking weeks or months to approve or deny their apps, those same developers will see a significant value in a marketplace that is moderated not by the companies, but the consumers of the apps themselves. True to the nature of a competitive market, less regulation may foster more innovation and success for both the developer, the end user and the companies themselves.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Ubiquitos Skill

The debate is still on the table as to how well blogging measures up to traditional journalism. It's an interesting dichotomy, the idea of formally trained journalists and motivated bloggers. The end result will be the same, naturally: a story about an event or people (generally). 

A journalist is someone who gets paid to report on things that happen. Journalists are supposed to use facts to represent an accurate reflection of history and provide an objective account of those events.

A blogger is someone who typically is not paid to publish their thoughts, and they do so via any number of freely available websites as a platform to deliver those thoughts. Objectivity is not considered a requirement, and bloggers often eschew objectivity for the sake of offering an opinion.

Except that many bloggers do get paid to write, and journalists don't always provide a factual or even objective editorial on events.

I think that blogging, as well as video and audio podcasting, becomes a skill in itself. Enthusiasts will create content about subjects they are familiar with, but the tool they use - blog sites, camera phones, amateur camcorders, production software - all of these elements begin to collate and manifest themselves in a broader ability to communicate. Of course they would! That's the point. But the content that bloggers create is not limited to what they know. In the exploration of delivering home-brew media to the Internet, with potentially millions of content consumers, they now understand how to deliver it. They may find their voice, and it may have more than a single dimension of dialogue.

And as bloggers begin to make some money (or, monetize, if you prefer, though I'm not sure if that term has fallen into the language-meme graveyard yet, to join the ranks of dot-com bubble words such as "synergy" and "paradigm") they enter into the competitive market of people-who-write-shit-so-others-will-read-it. And they can take that new skill and apply it to anything they have an opinion on. Some of the more popular bloggers (as well as podcasters and even Machinima makers) even publish collection of their work and sell them for profit.

The difference then becomes exactly how you make money. Are you working for a large, established publisher like  Rupert Murdoch? Then you're likely a journalist. If you are independent, or a member of some startup Internet media company like Gawker or Revision3? Probably a blogger.

I believe that if Hunter S. Thompson (who wrote about drug culture, politics and sports) started his career today, he would have been a blogger. And we;d be better off for it.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

How far the blog has come

I can remember when a journalist once called blogging a trend for online-diary schoolgirls that was already on the way out. That was early after the turn of the century. It never fails to shock and delight me how some people are so fixated on the way things are that they steadfastly refuse to even acknowledge the way thing can be.

Certainly not my first blog, but I'll begin it the way I always do, and did even when I kept written journals in the late 80's (graduating to digital versions in the 90's, on 3.5" floppies), with a bland introduction.

Normally I'd keep seperate blogs for seperate issues (technology, politics, entertainment, etc) but I think it's just easier to collate everything into one place, and this seems just as good a place as any (better, perhaps). I've been Twittering and micro-blogging a lot more in general, and 140 characters, or so, sometimes just isn't enough. So here we go.