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All I Want is 'Enry 'Iggens' 'Ead!

One of the finest things that ever happened for web developers was Google saying they would no longer support IE6. Now, an online retailer in Australia is taking on IE7, not by dropping support, but by charging a premium for transactions performed using the outmoded, ill-conceived, bug-laden and uselessly arrogant piece of old browser. And they're targeting not the browser itself, but pointing out the real culprit, which is the IT manager that refuses to move beyond a single MCSE-endorsed approach for three, four, maybe five years.

It's not without some justification. The cost of supporting browsers that don't even make an effort to stay standards-compliant is huge. Design variations using CSS have geometric levels of complexity; the only way to code for multiple browsers is to tweak and test, tweak and test, for hours. Hours and money that could be spent on making the overall experience better for everyone else. More importantly, hours taken away from making sites accessible and forward-compatible.

There's something interesting in this approach, though. Something about not going after the company (since that's a waste of time), but penalizing the users of a deleterious technology. From supermarket shopping bags to carbon tax, that seems to be the way of the future. But no time for such thinky things. Back to work.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 14th, 2012 12:52 pm (UTC)
Why is it always this way: the burden placed on those with the least power to resist.

Heh. There's the answer, though: least power to resist.

Lots of times people who use deleterious technologies (nice phrase, btw) do so because those technologies, being old and outmoded, are cheaper than the better alternatives. Maybe not for web browsers--though, yes, even for web browsers: if you have an ancient computer, chances are you need some old Netscape or Explorer, not the up-to-the-minute Firefox--but definitely for things like computers and cars.
Jun. 14th, 2012 02:44 pm (UTC)
I'd agree on any technology except computers; the free browsers are more efficient. Older machines can be given a new lease on life on Linux. Even IE8 is more efficient than IE7, and Windows 7 is cleaner than Vista. Frankly, I think there should be an across-the-board IE ban and leave it at that.

The real problem with computers, though, is habit. It takes time and effort to learn how to use one well. Switching from one OS to another is costly in time and frustration. I'm perfectly aware of how much better Dvorak keyboards are and I'm never ever going to use one. And I'll still keep buying Word because the free alternatives are just incompatible enough that I can't trust them.

This puts me in conflict with myself, because I know from a practical viewpoint that monopolies in computer science are actually beneficial—when they are open standards. I don't want "diversity" in the presentation layer of a browser, I want consistency. But I also don't want one corporate vision imposed on me (with the associated licensing fees).

So I keep falling back on one model that I think works both in the soft and the hard worlds: that when a product becomes so universal that it is a de-facto standard, it should be considered public domain. Sort of the economic equivalent of a plague that eventually burns through any species after its population explodes.

....Hmmm. Can you tell I'm having trouble focussing this morning? How's your day going?
Jun. 14th, 2012 02:53 pm (UTC)
Can you tell I'm having trouble focussing this morning?

Actually, I think you pretty well expressed the cycle of thoughts I tend to have on the topic (only your ruminations have more hard techie details).

How's your day going?

Awesome, actually! I should be doing my paid work--am about to start it, really truly, but in the meantime I just found a new research material for the Pen Pal novel (through Tumblr. I am loving Tumblr), and I got to go out in the bright morning sunshine and take pictures of a cottage-industry sawmill, also one of the red-winged blackbird prince, and also I picked a whole bunch of flowers.

I can probably coast on that through the 2,500 words that remain to be edited on the document I'm working on.

...now I guess it's back to work for you, too, eh?
Jun. 14th, 2012 02:59 pm (UTC)
Interesting. Very. Hmm.... Need to take some time aside to watch that.

But yes, I need to do some reading up and testing. Enjoy.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )