Re: The Final Word on Browsers and the Future

Scott E. Preece (preece@predator.urbana.mcd.mot.com)
Mon, 21 Oct 1996 14:04:21 -0500


Date: Mon, 21 Oct 1996 14:04:21 -0500
Message-Id: <199610211904.OAA03869@predator.urbana.mcd.mot.com>
From: "Scott E. Preece" <preece@predator.urbana.mcd.mot.com>
To: dsb@cs.duke.edu
CC: www-html@w3.org
Subject: Re: The Final Word on Browsers and the Future

 From: dsb@cs.duke.edu

| >                                         he connects to the Internet   
| >through his 2800 modem and begins surfing -- he just read in a magazine   
| >that U2 had a brand new web site promoting their new tour and new release   
| > -- he enters the web address to find a page filled with only text, when   
| >the ad in the magazine promised music videos, clips from their songs,   
| >etc.
| 
| And a page filled with text is exactly what he was expecting; he *is*
| using Lynx, after all.  In fact, he's not the least bit interested in
| the advertised video or audio clips; he's just looking for their tour
| schedule, to see if any of their appearances will be close enough for
| him to attend.  As it happens, the tour will bring U2 right to Vette
| guy's home town; unfortunately, U2's web site designer was more
| interested in flash-`n-glitz than useability, so Vette guy finds an
| unnavigable mess and leaves in disgust.  Oops -- one ticket sale lost.
---

Well, clearly we all have different expectations of the Net.  I almost
always expect and need to see graphical information when I go to a Web
site - I'm usually looking for kinds of information that simply cannot
be presented usefully any other way (e.g., maps, screen shots).  I do
appreciate that sometimes you just want information that can be
presented textually (the laptop I use when travelling is not up to
Netscape), and I do agree that people should provide alternative access
to as much of their content as feasible.  But that hardly implies that
they should not provide enhanced access for users who *can* take
advantage of it or that they should not inform users what they need to
be using to get that enhanced access.  They're wholly orthogonal issues.

---
|... he doesn't decide to buy any concert tickets; he couldn't,
| really, as all his spare cash has been sucked into the throw-away-your-
| computer-every-year-and-buy-a-new-one-just-so-you-can-be-on-the-
| cutting-edge treadmill.  U2's web site designer went to a lot of
| trouble to attract Nova guy, thinking that his high-end Pentium meant
| more chance of a ticket sale, when it turns out that he should have
| been trying to attract Vette guy instead -- which was the point you
| missed in the last letter.
---

Well, you could be right, but if I had to bet I would bet that
high-end equipment correlates well with willingness and ability to
spend.  I would also argue that the treadmill isn't really moving that
fast - most 386+ PCs and 68030+ Macintoshes are perfectly adequate for
most enhanced net sites, with addition of a little memory, which will
cost about as much as a tuneup for either the Nova or the 'Vette, and a
28.8 modem, which won't cost much more.

---
| >The point of all this, and forgive me for meandering, is that there comes   
| >a time when certain technologies of the past must be left behind [...]
| 
| And the point of all this is that sometimes some technologies *can't* be
| left behind.  Libraries and schools and corporate intranets can't afford
| to jump and scramble to upgrade to the very latest hardware and software
| every time you decide to use the latest way-kewl browser-excluding tag
| that comes down the pike.  And HTML was originally designed so that
| they wouldn't have to.
---

Who said life was fair?  There will always be some people eating at
the Four Seasons and some people eating at the soup kitchen and the bulk
of the world in between.  Should the New York Times not review Lutece,
because most of their readership can't afford to eat there?

*Of course* providers should provide alternative access to as much of
their content as they can. But good designers will also use the best
technology available to present the best site they can, to those users
who can take advantage of it and will let those users know how to get
the full benefit of their design.

scott

--
scott preece
motorola/mcg urbana design center	1101 e. university, urbana, il   61801
phone:	217-384-8589			  fax:	217-384-8550
internet mail:	preece@urbana.mcd.mot.com