Surely, everyone in the internet industry has heard of it by now: Responsive Web Design. It has pros and cons and there is certainly a debate to be had about Responsive Web Design itself. But larger than that, there is a philosophy behind Responsive Design that cannot be argued. Users are accessing websites and content from different devices than they used to. But not only different devices, but multiple devices. To implement a Responsive design not only accounts for a multitude of device resolutions so that no matter the viewport of the device that accesses the content the layout is properly adjusted, but to implement a Responsive design suggests that all of the devices that the user may use to access that content are covered.
This philosophy is something that needs to be applied further than just web design. In a typical day I am accessing websites from my phone, tablet, laptop, and desktop computers. But I am also accessing my e-mail from all these devices, my calendar from all these devices, my RSS feeds, Facebook, Twitter, and more. There are great ways to do all of these tasks on each of these devices and that is great. But why is it that Responsive design as a philosophy has not yet been captured at the system level? Shouldn’t I be able to have all my services and accounts automatically accessible and synced so that regardless of what device I use I can pick up exactly where I left off? If I install an application update on one device, isn’t it safe to assume that I want that application update on all my devices? Granted, I am reducing it to a level of simplicity that is easier said than done, but I truly think that Responsive Web Design has larger implications and ambitions that can be applied to computing in a much broader fashion.
Yes, I already hear critics yelling with comments: “It’s called cloud services you idiot!”. Yes, cloud services are great for making sure that my e-mail is in sync regardless of the client I use to access it, and so on and so forth. But there is a larger problem that if I add a new e-mail account to a device I need to do it multiple times if I want to be able to access it from all my devices. There is a fundamental shift in computing that I think has yet to occur where our computing itself becomes device agnostic rather than the services that we access. It is a huge undertaking and it may be an evolution that happens iteratively over time. But for the time being we at least need to get more than just web developers thinking Responsively.