Friday, July 17, 2009

Must IE6 die?

One of the top Trending Topics in Twitter is "IE6 Must Die". Superficially, the arguments in favor of retiring this old browser are quite reasonable, but in a deeper sense the arguments are really a pile of crap.

I believe in natural evolution. IE6 will eventually die off of its own accord as users abandon it over time. The very idea that developers and vendors seek to force IE 6 users to upgrade merely to primarily benefit developers and venders is simply morally indefensible.

The very first and most important principal that everyone should keep in mind is that users want simpler applications and web sites, not more complicated applications and web sites. Developers and vendors may certainly have a vested interest in producing ever-more sophisticated and complicated applications and web sites, but that is not an indicator of the interests or needs of usersAny IE6 user can easily and freely use Windows Update to upgrade to IE 7 or even IE 8, if they really want to gain access to more sophisticated features. The very fact that many users are choosing not to update is a good indicator that they are not interested in more complicated applications and web sites.

Developers and vendors may think (fantasize) that users really need all of this extra sophistication and complication, but a neutral observer will likely find that they are mistaken. Users want simplicity!

I'm not opposed to innovation, but if developers and vendors really feel that they can produce a dramatically superior user experience with more modern browsers, then they should go for it, provided that they also continue to provide a decent experience for more average and normal users. If developers and vendors find that the extra expense of maintaining two distinct user experiences is too high, then guess what... a neutral observer is likely to find that the "perceived" benefits in the minds of the developers and vendors are probably not there in the real world of real users.

There will come a time, maybe two or three years down the road, especially after the economic recovery becomes much stronger and users choose to upgrade to Windows 7 and IE 8 (or beyond) when IE6 will effectively have died off. Until then, developers should behave themselves and treat users with a lot more respect than they are doing today with this irresponsible "IE6 Must Die" campaign.

Even simple-minded Twitter has a web site that is already way too complicated for its nominally simple purpose. Message to all developers and vendors: Keep it simple!!!

To be clear, users are not the property of developers and vendors to abuse as they see fit. Even "evil" Microsoft knows that! It is certainly in Microsoft's interests to upgrade users to IE 7 or 8, but even Microsoft knows that they have to have at least some sensitivity to the needs of their markets.

There is a simple way to characterize the mentaility behind this whole "IE6 Must Die" "movement": unbridled arrogance.

Let me assure everyone that IE6 Will Die (eventually), but that day is still a distance off into the future. Let's wait for Windows 7 general deployment and for IE 8 to become the common version of IE, and maybe then IE6 will be a lot closer to falling (naturally, of its own accord) off the radar screens of developers and vendors.

-- Jack Krupansky

Thursday, July 09, 2009

I changed my name (in Facebook)

I had not been doing much with Facebook, but since I was pondering issues with names, I decided to go in and see what I had used for my name when I had claimed my Facebook profile (whenever that was, maybe a couple of years ago.)

I had in fact claimed Jack Krupansky as my name in Facebook. No surprise there. That is how most people know me.

But the more I thought about it, I decided that I needed some way to also be findable as John W. Krupansky.

I browsed through all of the options and settings and found where Jack Krupansky was set as my "real name." Hmmm... real name. I hadn't paid attention before.

While I was thinking about whether to change my "real" name in Facebook to John William Krupansky, I browsed some more and notice that Facebook also had an optional "Full Alternate Name." I went ahead and entered John William Krupansky as my full alternate name. Done.

Oops... I thought about it for a few more seconds and realized that I had my names backwards. I should have used John William Krupansky as my real name and Jack Krupansky as my full alternate name. That actually makes more sense. Done.

I would be more comfortable with just my middle initial when my name is used in general and then show the full spelling if someone looks at my profile, but Facebook does not give my any such option.

Unfortunately, the entire Facebook UI refers to me as John rather than Jack. Too bad they don't recognize formal and nick names and let you pick whether to default to formal or nick names. Actually, I'd rather have Facebook refer to me as Mr. Krupansky, just to make it clear what a subservient role the software real has. Facebook serves me. Facebook is not my friend.

Now that I have done all of this I realize another issue... findability in Google. My primary interest is professional in nature, so I would prefer that other professionals be able to find me as they know me, which is Jack Krupansky. But, by using John William Krupansky as my Facebook "real" name, my professional name on Facebook is not directly findable. Now I am thinking that I should set my "real" name to Jack Krupansky and my "alternate" name to John William Krupansky. But I'll think about this for more than a few seconds before changing it. Thinking... Done thinking. Changed. So, now my Facebook "real" name is back to Jack Krupansky and my "alternate" name is John William Krupansky. Logically that is backwards, but practically it should work better.

My Facebook profile is here:

Now, I need to go in and make sure I have LinkedIn set in a similar manner, if possible.

Twitter? Now there's a lost cause. Maybe they'll let me set my name properly when they figure out what they want to do in life.

Oh, and while I was at it, I found an Ivan Krupansky over in Slovakia to add as a friend. And he has a friend Jakub Krupansky (with an acute accent over the "y", which I do not know how to enter in an emailed blog post) who I also added as a friend. Whether either of them is even a distant relative is unknown. Do we really have the same last name if one uses a diacritical mark?

Now, I need to think some more about a sensible model for formal and informal names in the Semantic Web. It will be awhile before I get to the stage of addressing cultural difference in how names are used. That is all the more reason to strip the textual representations of names out of Semantic Web data and use a URI to reference the person rather than a culturally-dependent textual representation.

I need to take a look at the FOAF (Friend Of A Friend) vocabulary specification to at least use that as a starting reference point for name handling in the Semantic Web. Ditto for the Dublin Core Metadata Element Set. I do not think either will get me very far, but I at least need to cover those bases.

-- Jack Krupansky