Rdio announced last month that its music service would be available “free in the U.S. on the web.” The service is still accessible on desktop web browsers with Flash installed, but the site instructs users on smartphone and tablet browsers to access its service via native applications. So, is Rdio’s use of the term “the web” faithful to its technical implementation? Our own developer Brandon Rosage debates the issue with his brother Tyson, a software designer at Treehouse.
After finishing journalism school, I worked for a series of terrific newspaper and radio companies. Barely two years into it, after flirting with the web, I quit.
Compared to the web, print and radio had limited reach and were clumsy to use. In print, we plugged content into a fixed canvas and delivered the same experience to every reader. The closest we got to flexibility was an evening edition or special insert. The web attracted me because it couldn’t have been more different. It challenged me to design and build something that can reach anyone on any web-browsing device—a cause worthy of committing my career to.
Web design would be dramatically different if HTML had been born with some foresight for storytelling devices like maps. We certainly can’t blame web pioneers for focusing on type and images instead of maps, video, or canvas. But, because maps found their place at the table through browser plugins and third-party APIs, I find that they’re too often dismissed in the design process as elements that are just “plugged in.”