I think we're having a mars and venus problem here. i actually agree with a lot of what you're saying. but one thing i've done in the atlantic is to take a sociological, rather than technical, approach to the internet, or, to use the cliche, a "20,000 foot view." (see, for example, a piece i wrote in 2007 about how Facebook was here to stay and why. some of it turned out to be right, some of it wrong, but i think i framed a way to talk about sites like facebook that made sense to non-techies. http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2007/10/about-facebook/6181/) Similarly, here, I was trying to articulate a sense I had that things were starting to change in some fundamental fashion and that the digital experience in 5 years might be quite different than it is now. Again, i might be right; i might be wrong. But I wanted to change the way people were thinking about iphones and the ipad, and smartphones in general as a different platform than the web. Nowhere do i say, nor do i remotely believe, that the web is "over." But i do believe that the era where browser is the default method of accessing digital content and communication may be coming to an end, challenged by an array of apps and other tools that either work better or will be privileged because content owners believe them, rightly or wrongly, to be more monetizable. I also believe that most people (as opposed to most techies) are willing to be led into cul-de-sacs that might deprive them of free choice. The app, metaphorically, is a false god. Of course, I don't *know* if any of this is true. I'm trying to project out from current trends and connect the dots in a way that they haven't been connected before. I actually hope I'm wrong.
Where I get pissy is when the response is the lock-step "you don't get it," "you're old paradigm," "you're bought and paid for" thing. None of us truly know what the future will bring, but i was trying to go out on the limb--far out on the limb, in this case--in an effort to challenge some ingrained assumptions about digital media. anyway, appreciate your thoughtful response and happy to keep the debate going. your blog is an uncommonly smart one
i in no way believe the app experience is superior to the browser experience. most apps suck. but i do believe content owners think they can monetize apps in a way they couldn't monetize the web, so they are going to push content to apps at the expense of the web. at th emoment, they are probably right. this will be bad for the web and, ultimately, bad for content owners as well because, as you eloquently argue, the push to free is fairly inexorable. where we disagree is that i believe that print outlets (in particular) that have shunned the web seem to be doing somewhat better in retaining print subscribers and advertisers than those who bought into "free" hook, line, and sinker
A lot to respond to here and i think you make some good points, but i think you're kind of willfully misrepresenting my point of view on the issue at hand. I am, all your sarcasm aside, in favor of freedom, open source, and digital anarchy in general, something you have somewhat carefully elided from your gloss on my essay. My piece was largely an attack on Apple's efforts to curtail that freedom ("freedom from porn," among other things) and to find ways to rein in the open-plains marauding afforded by the browser-driven internet. Clearly and obviously, smartphones and ipads are tailored, curated experiences that are under the control (up to a point) of gatekeepers who can decide what we can and can't see (including, for example, flash). Also clearly and obviously, the rise of mobile computing will result in less non-mobile computing and the center of power will move from the browser to the smartphone/ipad experience (see, for example, Asia). This seemingly subtle shift could have a profound impact. I think in your haste to come digitally correct, you're failing to see how vestigial the browser could become in the near future. Not will. Could. Just because things are a certain way now, doesn't mean they will always be that way. To parrot one of the more dickish commentators, perhaps your grandchildren could explain that to you.