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Jack Viers
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My daughter always has a smile for me.
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@opschef runs timing out mid-#resource? Here's how to fix that:  Credit:@mikesmullin's 


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The Internet

Dear Gmail:

Please stop making me click paginated links. Facebook and Google+ have shown me that content should be loaded dynamically as I scroll down the page until there is no content any longer. I shouldn't have to click fifty links to filter out all the junk email that your spam filter somehow misses while being smart enough to flag the five real emails I received as being important.

-- Gmail Users.

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John, while I agree that most "apps" have style and effects missing from websites, I don't think all our content will be delivered via "apps" in the future for a couple of reasons:

1. Finding content in standalone apps will be impossible.
Remember the days when you really, really wanted to read all the news you could about making birdhouses from recycled tires, but didn't know where to look? Sure, you could go down to your local library, and if you were lucky, they had one article in an old Boy's Life magazine on microfiche. However, that wouldn't show up in the card catalog, so you either had to remember seeing that information in that magazine at some point and search all the issues, table of contents by table of contents; or pay to use some expensive article indexing service and search the catacombs of compressible library shelves for the magazine archives to find the article in question. And that was for one article that your library may or may not have. It took hours to get at the information. Sometimes, the article would be on the internet, but the point is that unless you just knew about it, or knew something that knew about it, you would never find out the way to build a birdhouse out of old recycled tires.

Fast forward to today. With websites, most content is available in a (fairly) standard format that is (relatively) easy for computers to automatically find, index, and query. Look at the real winners in the internet age: search engines. Google and Bing provide the search and locate functions to users for free. They're so good at finding information from the standard and boring website format, they can sell you things related to the information for which you are looking (like recycled tires from which to build said birdhouse). What's more, they can do this almost entirely without human interaction. As soon as someone posts a new blog about recycled-tire-birdhouse-building, a new search brings the article to your beady little eyes.

With apps, all of which will be storing their content in some app-centric specific datastore or database, to which only subscribers have access (through the app) to the content, the easy information age is over. Search engines will be forced to pay for access to the databases, and they'll have to develop whole new architectures to analyze and index the content. We all know that the big players (AOL, Yahoo, CNN, News Corporation, etc.) will work with the search engines to provide headlines and short descriptions of the content available within the app for a subscription fee, but what about the Mary Sue Coleman's Wild World of Tire Birdhouse Building app that encodes its data in the ArabicBinaryShorthand data transfer format? Yes, you are probably right that you wouldn't want to read her content anyway, but the point is that you'll never get the chance to find out as quickly as you could by using a web browser, good 'ol HTML, and Google Search.

2. The internet business model (selling advertising on free content) has changed the way we, as content consumers, expect to consume information and entertainment. Prior to search-indexed-websites, we got our information, primarily, from newspapers. They also sold advertising, but their content wasn't free. They had subscriber bases in the millions that paid for the newspaper to be delivered daily to our eager little eyes. Editors censored the news and tailored the knowledge we absorbed to fit their personal viewpoint of the world. Each paper had its own temperament, political ideology, and personality. Even if you weren't a subscriber, you could pick any paper you wanted up at your local newsstand, along with your pack of Lucky Strikes and daily cup o' joe.

Then the internet came along. All of a sudden, for the first time in history, information was cheap and easy to find and absorb. Sure, you couldn't read the daily news sitting at your kitchen table anymore, unless you had a twenty-five pound portable computer and a really long telephone chord, but the information available on a daily basis was tremendous, and, other than the fees paid to AOL or some other early ISP, mostly free. For the first time in history, supply of information and entertainment outstripped demand. The price of information and knowledge got accordingly cheaper and cheaper, until now, when anyone who actually tries to charge a fee for providing such information usually fails at business. People just won't pay for a piece of information anymore, because it is so easily available from other sources that its value is approximately that of a stick of chewing gum.

So while the presentation format of apps and their user-interfaces might convert some for a short while, the (now) artificial limits to the amount of information available at consumer's fingertips will prevent users and content providers from abandoning the web.

Get used to HTML and browsers. They will (probably) be running EVERY user interface in the very near future for every type of application. That may not be progress, but that is the way of the future.

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