NY Post Discriminates Against iPads - Slippery Slope
I use my iPad and Google News to catch up in the morning. Sometimes I click through on a link that turns out to be from the NY Post. Today I, and all other iPad users, were sent to a link explaining that “NYPOST.com editorial content is now only accessible on the iPad through the New York Post App” (1.99 from the iTunes store). That is a big slice through the web in a way that can slow down work. It's generally not a shock when I hit a link that requires payment. However, a paywall is likely to be a web dead-end for me and I reroute without much thought. The NY Post situation is different. The NY Post site is discriminating against a single device (at least for the moment, non-Safari browsers on the iPad and Android tablets can still reach NY Post sites. Mathew Ingram has a recent post on the revenue issues of newspaper paywalls. My issue is one of knowledge management and user expectations. The web works for knowledge management and collaboration because we have access to the world’s information. At the boundaries we all understand that everything isn’t free, but there is a logic to that and we can tacitly include that logic in our search behavior. The NY Post’s tool-specific decision has no logic. (The NY Post is not covering this story as far as I can tell, even after switching to my laptop.) Because this move has no logic it forces us to think -- not just about the question we have or the best way to construct the search -- but also about whether the particular device we are using and/or the specific browser we’re running will get us what we need. That is not valuable use of our mental effort when we are trying to answer a question. Thinking takes time. That’s why humans develop tacit rules to help us handle information. Our work is slowed down if we have to start thinking about which tools we’re using at the moment to browse the web. Plugged-in management highlights the importance of designing work and technology in a way that takes into account each of people, technology tools, and organizational practice. If you think to change one, you need to consider supporting change in the other two dimensions. The NY Post decision appears to be a tech tool change to support and organizational goal of increased revenue. It does not appear to acknowledge how people do their work and the way our brains work as we browse the Internet. Let's hope the backlash (this story is being covered from Wired to BusinessInsider) will raise awareness of the need for a device agnostic Internet. Red links for device-blocked content? In the mean time - a request for Google (s GOOG) in their quest to organize the world’s information: For device-blocked content, change the link color from the famous blue to red, for stop. It’s an economic question whether information is free or for fee. But, if we are to continue to effectively use the web as a resource for work and play, it would help if the rules were known in advance.