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This is your mind on media.

Musings on the effects of media on cognition.

Back to Basics Software Design

Yesterday’s post got me thinking. To sum up, computers are getting faster but software is getting bulkier and slower. While that’s probably a fair generalization, in the world of web browsers, there have been several notable exceptions of late. For years, users have had to choose between Netscape and IE, both of which are notably large for a web browser and not particularly quick at rendering pages. (I’m not linking to either of them, good reader, because I do not endorse them) However, Apple’s Safari was one of the first browsers to come along that bucked this trend, being quick, largely bug-free and very fast. Now for the PC and Mac, Firefox is causing quite a storm. In its recent spate of a massive number of downloads, it has only gained 1% of the marketshare but a million downloads on its first day of release is something to pay attention to. From reading about people who have made the switch from Internet Explorer to Firefox it seems clear that people are frustrated with IE and looking for an alternative primarily due to IE’s lackluster security features. I’ve even found several recent stories like this one that point to people who are unplugging their computers from the internet do to their frustration with spam, spyware and viruses, oh my!

It’s always been a secret desire of mine to sue Macromedia for Flash’s antics. No program I have ever worked with has been so completely prone to random crashes and bizarre bugs or mis-documented code. But I’m not just using it for fun. It’s my job. If I’m hired to work in Flash then my lost work and time spent restarting Flash and banging my head against a nearby desk is money out of my pocket (and a health risk). Is it so hard to understand that I feel maybe Macromedia owes me something?

Don’t flip out: I’m just as anti-litigation as anyone. It’s a pipe dream to think that in the current social climate anyone is going to sue a software company like Macromedia and get away with it. But in a rapidly advancing technological world where our lives come to depend more and more on bugs not happening in our computer systems, I doubt the shrug generating quality of bugs is going to last too long.

The truth is, it’s not going to continue. The other shoe is going to drop — maybe soon for Redmond. If common web users are willing to completely unplug from the web or do something as unorthodox as use open source software we may be seeing the beginnings of a technological society unwilling to accept technological glitches as a par for the course.

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