The Apps fallacy

It’s funny to watch the current obsession with Apps. It reminds me of Aldous Huxley’s idea that we would be destroyed by things that delight us. In the news arena, Apps are the route by which the old dinosaurs of the mass media world hope to re-establish control. It won’t work, but it’ll take a while before people realise why. They could save a lot of time by reading Dave Winer.

I’ll keep playing here while the rest of you flirt with apps. I’ll be here when you come back. I know it’s going to happen. Here’s why.


Visualize each of the apps they want you to use on your iPad or iPhone as a silo. A tall vertical building. It might feel very large on the inside, but nothing goes in or out that isn’t well-controlled by the people who created the app. That sucks!

The great thing about the web is linking. I don’t care how ugly it looks and how pretty your app is, if I can’t link in and out of your world, it’s not even close to a replacement for the web. It would be as silly as saying that you don’t need oceans because you have a bathtub. How nice your bathtub is. Try building a continent around it if you want to get my point.

We pay some people to be Big Thinkers for us, but mostly they just say things that please people with money. It pleases the money folk to think that the wild and crazy and unregulated world of the web is no longer threatening them. That users are happy to live in a highly regulated, Disneyfied app space, without all that messy freedom.

I’ll stay with the web.

Me too.

Steven Johnson’s Hearst Lecture is a more extended riff on the same theme. Well worth reading in full. Which of course rather makes Dave’s point: you can click on the link and go straight to the lecture. Which you can’t do in most apps. The medium is the message: no linking; stay inside the glass box.