The roots of popular music are firmly embedded in technological innovation — and limitation. Symphonic music, Opera and multi-verse ballads were all the rage around the time that Edison invented the phonograph. Edison’s invention used cylinders, and these allowed lengthy recordings as fit the style of the times, but they were superceded by the flat disc, which was easier to stack and package.
The earliest records were 10 inch shellac discs with wide grooves, that allowed 3 minutes of recording time per side. The popularity of this technology roughly coincided with the rise of radio, and the two technologies fit together perfectly. The demand for content to fit these 3 minute discs gave rise to a new art form: the popular song.
The 3 minute pop song remained a standard long after the technology had advanced beyond the initial limitations. When RCA introduced the 7 inch 45 in 1949, it was capable of holding 7 and a quarter minutes per side, but it wasn’t until 20 years later that there was any real demand for utilising that length. Instead, thousands of well crafted 3 minute pop songs continued to dominate the airwaves.
To this day songwriting ‘rules’ continue to be influenced by a technological limitation that ended 63 years ago. This is in part because of the legacy of all the great pop singles from the 50′s and 60′s, and because two generations of listeners have been ‘trained’ to appreciate a catchy, 3 minute ditty.
So what does any of this have to do with web development, and specifically mobile web development?
I am a believer in, and am trying to be a follower of, the ‘Mobile First’ philosophy which has emerged in the last couple of years. I first heard mention of this concept by Dale Mugford of BraveNewCode who gave a talk at my local WP meetup group, and was immediately hooked. More recently I have been reading Luke Wroblewski’s ‘Mobile First‘ book, which outlines a very compelling argument for embracing this idea.
For those who don’t know, Mobile First is a design and development philosophy that proposes websites and applications should be built primarily for mobile platforms, before considering desktop platforms. The reasoning behind the philosophy is also straightforward: mobile platforms are overtaking desktops as the primary means that users interact with the internet. The statistics are not trivial; smart phone and tablet use is growing exponentially, and 2012 is set to be the year that their use as the most common web access device exceeds that of traditional desktops.
And yet the development industry lags.
(Okay before anyone objects too loudly, I know WordPress does not have an MVC architecture, and I know this example isn’t really what MVC is all about. But please bear with me.)
One of the tenants of the Model-Controller-View software architecture is that logic is separated from the views. This is not unlike separating style from content in html. In MVC, views are the files that the user interacts with.
Now that Andrew Nacin has announced that WordPress 3.4 will allow page templates to reside in subdirectories, I am finally going to be able to organize my theme directories with headers, footers, sidebars and page templates all sitting in their own respective directory.