RE : The Final Word on Browsers and the Future

Murray Altheim (
Fri, 18 Oct 1996 13:30:08 -0500

Message-Id: <v02140b1aae8d72893159@[]>
Date: Fri, 18 Oct 1996 13:30:08 -0500
To: "Jason O'Brien" <>
From: (Murray Altheim)
Subject: RE : The Final Word on Browsers and the Future

"Jason O'Brien" <> writes:
>Murray Altheim, Program Manager
>    Spyglass, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts writes:
>>I find it insulting to be constantly told to get a new browser, change
>>my window size, change my font settings. Akin to opening a book and being
>>told [...]
>While I must admit this did provide some good humor to my day, you are
>missing the point on this issue -- you've exaggerated this issue --
>deciding not to upgrade, either browsers or equipment to handle the
>browsers, is like saying I'd like to stay with horse-drawn vehicles
>This type of thinking
>does not belong in the computer and especially internet industries --
>this industry is one of advancement -- you have to accept that new
>products and technologies will arrive about every six months to a year --
>The final point here is that
>1) We cannot design for everyone's viewing standards;
>2) The only alternative is to design for the future -- not being stuck in
>the past -- our whole culture and lifestyle is one of advancing beyond
>where we have been, to improve upon what came before -- if you don't
>accept that, you don't belong in this industry.

1) You must design for the intended audience, whether on the desktop or a
PDA browser. The idea that some significant percentage of your audience is
unimportant (or Luddites because they won't or can't upgrade to your
browser) is simply an amazingly arrogant attitude that speaks for itself.

2) I love it when someone tells me that if I don't accept their viewpoint,
I don't belong in the industry ("Some people have even more arrogance than
I!" he says to himself). We're not here to be serving the industry, it's
here to serve us. I've been using computers since 1976; I'm hardly new at
it. Computers are to empower people to do their jobs, learn new things,
etc. not force people (who are now called "users") to continually keep
track of the latest "advancements" merely to have access to information.

When you spend your efforts ranting about the future, modernity, progress,
etc. it merely sounds ridiculous. I'm not a Luddite, I'm complaining about
poor design. Content providers assuming their audience will upgrade to
their choice of browser is an ignorant viewpoint. It ignores the direction
of the industry (which BTW I *may* have some understanding of) toward
OS-based UAs, and the growing use of devices that CANNOT handle content
geared toward 1024 pixel wide, 24 bit color, Java-enhanced framed pages.
Everybody is getting out of the application-based browser business.
Everybody. If they aren't, they're obsolete. So putting a badge on a page
prodding people to use a specific browser is an obsolete viewpoint. Hey,
Jason, you're obsolete: content negotiate (evolve). Don't require your
audience to use your tools.

>So that is why I will not hesitate, and neither should others, to proudly
>place a label on a web page stating which browser(s) this web page is
>best designed for.   Sooner or later, people will upgrade.   This is not
>a matter of falling down a cliff because someone else said so -- it's the
>simple law of computing -- what is hot, fast, and efficient today will be
>obsolete in a year.

Go ahead. But don't expect people to use your choice of browser. Not
because they won't upgrade, but because they have made an informed decision
NOT TO, or because they CANNOT, for whatever reason (device limitations,
physical limitations, lack of control over device environment, the browser
isn't available for their platform, etc.). What is hot, fast, and efficient
today will be obsolete in _three_ months. You're behind the times.


    Murray Altheim, Program Manager
    Spyglass, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts
    email: <>
    http:  <>
           "Give a monkey the tools and he'll eventually build a typewriter."