LiveBooks, Flash and the future of the web HTML 5
LiveBooks was making super cool Flash web pages long before the newest iDevice. When I signed-up for a LB site it was over $3000 and it was worth it. Today it’s $39 a month – hmm. Admittedly, they are not customized. Over the six years I’ve been a customer LB has held their ground in the template web page world we now live in. However, innovations like full-screen images and streaming video have been a challenge for LB to integrate, often reaching the editSuite too slow for those of us who are constantly trying to tweek our sites and keep pace with our integrated media driven clients.
Early on the morning of April 3rd I was at my local Apple dealer, Tekserve, getting to know the new iPad. As an iPhone user it took me all of 3 seconds to get the feel for it. The first thing I looked up was naturally my photo web page and it looked like a Photoshop web gallery circa 1993. Ugg, why can’t Apple play nice with Adobe? Surely there is more to the Flash discussion than soft-headed sentimentality to photo and video based template sites like LiveBooks and A Photo Folio. Steve Jobs seemed to think so and put out a no-holds-bared general letter, “Thoughts on Flash“. NPR had an interesting story on why Jobs hates Flash? Jobs thinks it uses too much battery life, causes crashes and is not designed for the mobile touch environment.
So who’s driving the future of the user environment, the hardware or software developers? Perhaps the two are the same thing and always have been. Google and Microsoft are selling smart phones while Apple is controlling the software that runs on their devices at the hardware level. I use my iPhone everyday, all day and haven’t worried about how bad my web page looks because even I don’t really surf the web with my phone – it’s just too small. Until now, what the iPhone lacks in a real web experience has been mitigated by the iPad. Every day I walk past the Flatiron at lunch and see iPad users all buzzed out on free wifi surfing the web. Web surfing has never had it so good since the advent of mobile touch technology.
After my web page letdown at the store I reached out the the support team at LB to ask them how they were going to deal with the Flash vs HTML5 issue and more importantly, my iTool toting clients. I wasn’t given a date but was told it was under development and on the way. Yesterday, it happened. LiveBooks updated the HTML mobile site for LB users. Jericho at LB posted a How To on the forum. While the HTML site is better it’s still pretty late 90’s. Incremental progress.
So what will the web v3.0 look like now that it’s small enough to carry with you everywhere and big enough to enjoy? I’ve read and heard everybody give their two cents about the rising phoenix of journalism and the adaptation of the page. I know all my ‘surplussed’ friends and colleagues in the publishing world are proof of the shifting industry. However, with ad dollars exponentially pouring into the web I know it’s just moving from one piece of technology to another. Neil Postman’s book Technopoly says it perfectly.
Anyone who has studied the history of technology knows that technological change is always a Faustian bargain: Technology giveth and technology taketh away, and not always in equal measure. A new technology sometimes creates more than it destroys. Sometimes, it destroys more than it creates. But it is never one-sided.
What will mobile touch technology give and what will it take? Steven Levy’s Wired Magazine (3/2010) feature is the most informed long-view projection about the impact of the tablet and what the technological change will mean to the future of computing. You can read the article on your laptop, smartphone or with the new WIRED app on your tablet during lunch hour grifting off the Madison Square Park wifi.