Walled Gardens and the Village Green

The recent stories about Apples apparent datacentre/cloud infrastructure ambitions are once again stirring up talk of the closed development environment of the iDevice and the supposedly 'open' android (oh... there's a few other contenders too, so I'm told). It's largely the same old talk and the same two camps of integrated design which undeniably applies development restrictions and the free-for all approach which clearly appeals to vast numbers of people. I can't help but feel it's not only a horse that's been dead long enough to be smelling pretty old by now, but an irrelevant point. We all have a preference based on an aesthetic, idealistic or economic choice. There will be those who opt for Apples precise and organised design and those who get happy in their special places at the quiet whisper of the phase "root kit". What both camps miss is that there's a more important consideration beyond your choice of device (be it smartphone, notebook or desktop computer) and that is the internet. Regardless of whether your garden is surrounded by marble walls and golden towers or just has an open lawn for miles both have to converge on a common ground, the Village Green of the internet.

The internet remains the battleground for free access on a number of levels from censorship and the two-tier service aspirations of some corporate interests to the establishment of web standards such as HTML5. The inescapable truth however is that this is an arena where the device paradigms need to build an overall consensus, and where no single approach will ever win. It's the single most important feature of a smartphone, the one we use the most, the one we pay so much for and it's largely the same for all of us. So why do we care so much about the devices that other uses are utilising?