The Web has changed us forever. It’s not just about how we experience digital media or how we purchase things or even all that free porn. Yes it’s also given us new ways to satisfy our egos, express our ideas, publish works, report information, research, share new capabilities. But I’m also talking about fundamental things: new ways of communicating, learning, meeting people, keeping in touch with people, even grieving.
Because the World Wide Web is open access, it means that anyone can build anything on it with any technology they want. Flash, Silverlight, Java, NaCl, Unity3D. You just have to find a set of users willing to download the software required to use the technology.
One way to think about these technologies is as the
“lowest-common-denominator” platform. Pretty much any device has a web browser these days. The way I prefer to think about them is in terms of pushing their boundaries, breaking them at their edges and watching the capabilities expand. You have to have patience for this.
I’m conflicted with Apple’s recent move on the iPhone OS 4.0 where they changed Section 3.3.1 of the iPhone Developer Agreement to state:
Applications must be originally written in Objective-C, C, C++
I realize the business side of things. But part of me rails against this new restriction because it is fundamentally not open – even though the iPhone/iPad SDKs are not something I deal with, it still bothers me.
I don’t agree with Apple’s move, but it’s their closed system so it’s their rules. Yet Apple is a big company. It also happens to like the web. Apple started and continues to be the heaviest contributor to WebKit, one of the most promising open-source projects I’ve ever come across. Do these things balance? Because another part of me is hopeful this might push more developers towards the Open Web.
Better yet, it might just push certain tool makers towards the Open Web, just like losing marketshare pushed parts of Microsoft to rally behind the Open Web in the promises of IE9. I hope the Open Web is looking more lucrative to Adobe now.
Anyway, this latest conflict serves to highlight the downside of technologies controlled by one vendor: You have to play by their rules. And those rules can change.