#ScienceLooksGood

The Wall

One of the big discussions in the tech community has always been having an open source environment where anything goes, versus a closed environment where only filtered content is available. This discussion has recently manifested in the smartphone wars, with the open Google Android operating system vs the closed Apple iOS ("the walled garden"). TechCrunch has a great article covering the success of closed systems, stating that "the walled garden has won".

Giving all that power and control to Amazon, Apple, Google and Intel in exchange for security may ultimately be a reasonable and necessary tradeoff — but that kind of centralization of control still makes me more than a little uneasy.

Geeks hate control. We have the smarts, and we'd rather monitor and moderate ourselves. But that's just not going to work for the other 90% of the population.

My dream is that technology is regarded as an essential part of our society, which goes beyond people buying iPhones. Having a curated experience helps people of all generations to feel comfortable with technology without drowning in nonstop choices. People need a nudge in the right direction, just like they do with supermarket circulars, Amazon recommendations, and film reviews. It's the reason why it's easy to buy an iOS device and get the full experience by following the recommendations.

Part of it is a power play. The more open the environment, the more us geeks are in control. Because there are a sea of choices, we are the ones that hold the key to making sense of it all. In a closed environment such as iOS, people are fed suggestions based on what Apple highlights on the site, as well as "top 10" lists. Even though these can be gamed, people are not going to use something if it doesn't work for them. This is the benefit of the closed model - it is heavy on suggesting things to do, but it doesn't force the user to agree. Essentially, it reduces that amount of choices that the average person has to make.

Here's to the success of the wall - the more people engaged by tech, the more tech will be able to innovate. Let's keep the snowball rolling!