Digital Minefield

Why The Machines Are Winning

A Rose is a Rose is . . .


Recently, I received two rude shocks from the Web. First, as I was trying to fix my Comcast problems online, they offered a download they said would help. Downloaded it (and scanned it before running). Wouldn’t run. Why? Said it needed Internet Explorer (7 or above). I was using Firefox, and almost never use IE—and for good reason. Read on.

The second shock came on my Kindle web browser. I went to a page and was unable to enlarge it. Huh? Had not seen this before on the Kindle. Checked a number of other (bookmarked) pages. All enlarged just fine. Clearly there was something different in the code of that one web page (and probably others) hindering magnification.

Okay, class, what do these two problems have in common? Number one was Comcast insisting on Internet Explorer; number two was some web pages not magnifying. Let’s start with the obvious: all browsers are not equal. Less obvious is how different they are: 95% of the market is six very different browsers (and many versions of each).

Comcast wanted me to use IE because they knew their web page worked on it—and not on other browsers. I don’t use IE because it doesn’t meet international standards nearly as well as other browsers. Speaking of international, it is the World Wide Web—and Internet Explorer has less than 24% of the market. (Chrome beats it with over 27% worldwide.) Yet Comcast demands IE despite it having less than half (42%) of the US market!

Things, as you may have noticed, change. Internet Explorer used to be top of the heap. Remember Netscape? Comcast, big enough to be a bully, doesn’t seem to care. And I don’t, really, except … if they’re going to limit us to one browser they should say so—UP FRONT! (Their chat page also did not work in Firefox.)

I don’t think Comcast is being stupid by ignoring other, more popular, browsers. However, I do say they really don’t care, i.e., their way or the highway. Rude.

As for that rose, call it whatever you like—but a browser is clearly not a browser.

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