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Re: Mobile, Web and Multi-device

From: Marcos Caceres <w3c@marcosc.com>
Date: Thu, 26 Sep 2013 17:21:50 +0100
To: Jo Rabin <jo@linguafranca.org>
Cc: tomomi.imura@nokia.com, dom@w3.org, sa-takagi@kddi.com, public-web-mobile@w3.org
Message-ID: <A0DE4B0E367644F6B74F70D085F970E2@marcosc.com>

On Wednesday, September 25, 2013 at 6:06 PM, Jo Rabin wrote:

> On 25 Sep 2013, at 11:48, Marcos Caceres <w3c@marcosc.com (mailto:w3c@marcosc.com)> wrote:
> > On Friday, 20 September 2013 at 22:22, tomomi.imura@nokia.com (mailto:tomomi.imura@nokia.com) (mailto:tomomi.imura@nokia.com) wrote:
> > 
> > > I am not trying to bring back the topic, but yes, classification of
> > > "mobile" is getting too complicated these days.
> > 
> > 
> > This is why it is best to avoid it: to ask, "what is mobile? What is a web app? what is a web page?" risk sending us down a rat hole that's rapidly morphing (it's really not that relevant and everyone will give you different definitions that will be neither fully wrong nor fully right - but 100% unhelpful). Those things are whatever those that build them want to call them - and not intervening or trying to define it is a good thing - that's what urban dictionary and wikipedia are for. 
> I do think it's useful for us to say what we mean by the the word "Mobile" in name of our group, and use of the word in our charter. As mentioned on the call today, it's a scoping exercise, mainly, to my mind. 
> To be clear, I am not interested in classifying devices, I'm interested in classifying the context of use, only part of which relates to the device in use. I'll publish a draft paper shortly. Hopefully it will gain immediate and massive consensus then we can just move on. :-)

Sure, go for it! 

> > "Mobile web" is a red herring (just marketing speak), like "HTML5". Perhaps it used to mean something - specially in the days when content was not being created for portable computers; but now that we all "get it" (even if we all truly suck at defining it - i.e., "we know it when we see it"), it's becoming increasingly rare for a webs site to not be tailored to a range of screen sizes and input method AND for a device to not be able to adapt the content of sites to small screens and input methods. 
> It would be useful to know if you have specific stats on "increasingly rare".
So, a quick scan of the data from WebDevData indicates that 5177 sites are using "meta width=device-width". The sample represents the top 50,000 sites as ranked by Alexia as of August. 

That's 10% that contain that by default in their HTML. The numbers would be significantly larger if the user agent string was set to imitate that of mobile devices during data collection. 
> And in any case the representation of the content on the screen is only part of the story.

Sure, but it's by far the most significant story.  
> > In other words, this is not new and the distinction is not relevant or even interesting - it's a mostly solved problem (and has been for a long time through media queries and declarative solutions).
> Media Queries helps a bit for sure, but that doesn't make the problem "mostly solved". For example (and we had this discussion in Coremob, which we should bring forward) one would like to be clear which assets referred to in a media query should be pre-emptively loaded (e.g. landscape vs portrait flips) vs those that should not.
Yes, the CSS working group is already aware of this problem. There are also libraries such as Scott Jehl's eCSSential that address this.  
> This is of some importance in a "mobile" environment meaning in this case that the connection has limited bandwidth and/or is paid for by usage.

I don't think that has anything to do with limited connectivity - it's only coincidental and would benefit all users to have the above fixed in the platform. However, it's a hard sell that it's a problem on mobile because the average size of CSS, JavaScript, or even HTML don't account for a significant amount of data when compared to images. On average, CSS only accounts for 8KB per request out of 42kb on average for a page. On the other hand, images account for 951Kb (!!!!) and it's only getting worst.

> > > It is not just the hand-held devices that connect to Internet on cellular
> > > network anymore. How about wearables? Internet of Things?
> > > Google Glass is probably considered mobile, and it has a web browser that
> > > can access "mobile web" too.
> > 
> > We need to be careful not to think of the Web this way. 
> > 
> > As hopefully all agree, there is no such thing as the "mobile web" and no distinction to be made between "that's mobile", "that's *not* mobile", and "but is that mobile?"
> If you mean "The Mobile Web" qua a distinct district, or neighbourhood of the Web, I agree, the time for that has passed. However there is indeed such a thing as "The Mobile Web" if one means the Web used in a wide variety of contexts whose properties vary distinctly from suppositions about The Desktop Context.
That distinction is meaningless, IMO. I can use a desktop site on my phone or tablet. It might not be the optimum experience, but devices help me deal with the increasingly rare case where this happens.    
> To take Tomomi's example, Google Glass is mobile, not because people move around with it on, particularly, but because you interact with it in different ways ...

I don't see how that makes Google Glass "mobile"? Again, the fact that we are not going to agree on this kinda underscores my point to the futility of us even discussing this. It's a red herring, IMO - but I'm quite happy to put aside my skepticism and see where you will go with it :) 
Received on Thursday, 26 September 2013 16:22:17 UTC

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