No Wonder Novarra Is Mucking Things Up So Badly

The discussion about how Vodafone UK is using Novarra’s transcoding technology to break the mobile web rolls on, but kudos to Tom Hume for spotting this gem from somebody at Novarra in an email to a W3C list:

A well-designed content transformation server can do a better job of following the mobile best practices than a human author, especially when taking into account the capabilities of the many different mobile devices. The result will be a more consistent, uniform experience.

As Tom points out, that’s not really the case. A machine can more blindly and accurately follow a set of rules, for sure, but the W3C’s mobile web best practices aren’t hard and fast rules, but suggestions, or as Tom says, common sense. To say that machines can do a better job of humans of dealing with context, information design, emotion and all the other aspects of user experience is fallacious; it also reveals a great deal about Novarra’s mindset.

Mike Rowehl chimes in with some commentary on how the supposed “resolution” to this issue, in the form of some W3C guideline, looks to be rather pointless. I’ve read through the linked emails and they’re largely over my head. Perhaps I’m just ignorant to some aspect of what’s going on here, but it really seems like there’s a pretty simple solution, without the need for all these mailing lists and consensus-building and committees and bylaws and such: Vodafone and Novarra could give up on their whitelist defense and simply pass through the correct user agent and return mobile content as intended by site developers.

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