Reflections on Using [this] Mobile Web Server

It is probably about that time that I take a look back at using this mobile web server. But, I don’t want to. I just kind of want to keep this as it is, refine my understanding a bit more, and then grow the usage across the many persons I’ve found that could use something like this.

But, that’s not happening. And I’ve got to move on. And so I am.

It is a bit funny though, I had not thought of writing this piece at all until I checked the server logs tonight. I saw that a person had come to the site and specifically to the article titled Why Use a Web Server on a Mobile Device (written July 26, 2009). This was a reflective piece as well, and one where it seemed that the many thoughts that I’d had about web servers, information management, and mobile devices all came together. And I wrote straight from my mobile-centric heart.

You know, it was indeed a good idea. It is a great idea for a mobile device to move from being a communication and information accessory to the main hub. It’s a great idea for the mobile device to be usable from any web browser, whether the device is on your person or not. It’s a great idea still to have the ability to subscribe to content – whether blog, presence, or even availability – directly from another’s mobile, and then see those updates either from your mobile or laptop or personal information application. A mobile web server is really a good idea.

And it’s beyond its time only in relevance.

From where I sit, the comfort that people have with services such as Facebook, Foursquare, and hosted MS Exchange makes speaking about the relevancy of a mobile web server harder – where it should be easier. It makes a lot of sense to say that you own the information and web services simply broker what you allow. For example, if all you want Facebook for is to connect to events, then why would you resort to putting your personal details there? Wouldn’t it make more sense to just allow Facebook to know when you are available, and then you opt-into being notified or connected?

I see the scary sides of losing your mobile device and having very little control over who accesses it, even if you are looking at it move across a map on your website. I see the opening up of the HTTP proxy, allowing even search engines to not just see your blog posts, but the entire contents of your contacts and calendar with all of that information being a part of that way-back machine that’s not so smile-inducing.

I see the strain on the mobile device as multiple people access one or several web applications at once. And the same joy when those people are all amazed at such a powerful concept – a web server – being used on what is essentially a mobile phone with a powerful operating system and fat wireless pipe.

And in all of that, it is really cool. It’s a concept that I wish to see better used and developed. I’d love to see a service come forward where people can simply install their mobile web server, configure an OpenID, and then have a security key/token for everyplace online and offline. I can see how a manufacturer like Nokia can open a service for those who cannot afford to pay a one-time fee to be their own gateway with an enhanced version of the software that also connects to an Ovi-like service.

But, this mobile web server was research, and all research projects end. All of them have intended results, intended functions, and a slew of data that’s given the right context so that something better can come.

I hope that sometime in the near future that this kind of software can come back and be useful on a wider range of devices. I hope that people see that owning their information and then connecting with it, is just as empowering as publishing the same 160 characters that another hundred or thousand people have.

Yea, it is just a piece of software; but in the right hands, it could change the world for a lot of folks. I’m one person that the Nokia Mobile Web Server software and service has changed. And for that opportunity to reflect on what was and what could be, I’m grateful.

Starting next week, I’ll point my posts here. It’s temporary. Because now I know better.