Mobile Web sucks — or maybe it doesn’t

So it appears that Russell Beattie — who took a sabbatical from blogging for a year or so, for reasons I never quite understood — is, well… a little ticked at some of the criticisms that Scott Karp levels at the mobile Web in a post at Publishing 2.0. So ticked that he sprinkles his post liberally with the F word (a good, Anglo-Saxon word that I have no problem with).

prod-mobile.jpgI actually found myself nodding as I read Scott’s list of things he dislikes about the mobile Web experience. For example, Russell essentially calls Scott a moron because he complains about how most websites don’t automatically detect a mobile browser and send a mobilized version of their site — but that’s something that bugs me too. I have a script for my blog (from the excellent Alex King) that serves up a stripped-down version when it detects a mobile device. It’s not rocket surgery. But lots of sites don’t do it.

But Russell says this complaint just “highlights one’s inability to use a decent mobile browser and or the lack of effort to bookmark a site’s mobile version,” which I think kind of misses the point. It’s possible that Russell’s thoughts on that particular matter have something to do with the fact that he’s working on a startup called, which does exactly that — takes websites and feeds them through a transmogrifier that turns them into mobile-friendly sites.

I also happen to think that mobile sites could cut down on the advertising a bit, which is another of Scott’s criticisms. But Russell says that “complaining about a website having ads is like complaining it’s not 1996 anymore. Grow up.” Why not keep the ads on the full version of the site, where most people still go? That doesn’t seem like a huge deal to me either.

I have nothing against a little swearing to make a point — in fact, I’m in favour of it. And I like a strongly-worded critical polemic or two (and have written my share). But to me, Russell’s post seemed so angry and over the top that it made me wonder what else was going on. Rex seems to agree with me. I certainly don’t think that Scott said anything as moronic as Russ is making it out to be. Karoli has more at Odd Time Signatures.

13 thoughts on “Mobile Web sucks — or maybe it doesn’t

  1. I agree with you that Russell’s response was more than a little over the top. I thought the points Scott raised were more than valid in light of the current mobile landscape of accessing the web.

  2. The problem with Scott’s criticisms is his constant whining about the iPhone, which he has already admitted in previous posts he doesn’t own and has never owned or used except “in the store”. He has problems with his Blackberry and “the Mobile Web” based on personal experience, fine. But his insistence in bringing up the iPhone in 4 of his 5 examples (without any proof) is just link baiting, and tiresome.

  3. I’ve learned a lot about mobile technology over the years from Russell Beattie and I have also learned to read the voices of the experts I trust. The colourful language employed by many at the bleeding edge of technology can infuriate and fluster those who have never read or met those leading lights.

    That said, Russ Beattie raises issues that revisit the concept of the mobile web. His awareness of how quality data services are structured, from their code base to display devices, offers me important clues about the way my mobile internet usage will change in the years ahead.

  4. While Scott’s points are a bit 2002-ish, Russell’s answer was pertty much not called for.

    The other hand, I love seeing a blogger fight that doesn’t involve Dave Winer for a change… 😉

  5. I have no problem with Russell being blunt or using any word he wishes to. However, his immediate attack of an individual, rather than that individual’s ideas, is lazy and moronic.

  6. “his immediate attack of an individual, rather than that individual’s ideas, is lazy and moronic.”

    Pot meet kettle. LOL.

  7. No, Slorn. I was quite precise in my language. I did not call Russell a moron, I called his approach moronic and lazy. On the other hand, Russell went straight to disparaging the person, rather than his ideas. As I’ve said elsewhere, I’m quite sure Russel is NOT a moron. — As we are using the F word around this thread, this reminds me of the joke in which at the divorce trial of Minnie and Mickey Mouse, the judge says the fact that Minnie is crazy is not grounds for divorce. “I didn’t say she was crazy,” said Mickey. “I said she was fucking Goofy.” In other words, I didn’t say Russell was a moron, I said he was, well, whatever.

  8. The desire of boy bloggers to actually be grade 7 girls actually amazes me….

    (although the lego ad on Russ’s blog was cool)

  9. I originally used Alex King’s mobile plugin and it worked great but the only problem is that I can’t log into my blog with my Treo since it won’t take me to the login page. So, although my readers will love the plugin, it doesn’t work for me. So, I disabled it for that since I want to be able to blog with my Treo.

    I have since started using mo:blog and u*blog but still unsure about enabling the plugin again. I do have mobile links on the side bar so that people can visit my site with those links so it still works.

    Russell is a bit overrated in my view but who cares about what I think?

    I do find it annoying that the Blazer browser on my Treo is so underpowered to do much of anything. I need Flash support at least since too many sites require Flash in order to work.

    That’s all I’m complaining about now.

  10. Yeah, the fact that you can’t log in using Alex’s plugin is definitely a pain — but if I go to my blog on my mobile, I just click “view full HTML” or whatever it is at the bottom of the page and then log in. I mostly have the plugin for others who might want to view the blog on their phones.

  11. What plugin are you using that allows you to “view full HTML” with your mobile? Would you mind sharing it? I would love to get that plugin.

  12. May C, that’s the mobile blog-conversion plugin from Alex King — the king of WordPress plugins. It detects a mobile device and serves up a stripped-down version of the blog, but with a link to the full version for those who might prefer it.

  13. Thanks! I did use Alex King’s plugin but maybe I screwed up previously or didn’t notice the view in full at the bottom but have installed it back and it works!

    My main concern was not being able to log in but since I already have the login link on the sidebar and if I view the page in full, it will allow me to go in. Cool! Thanks again!

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