e: Colour: NCSA Mosaic / Netscape

Steve Nisbet (S.Nisbet@doc.mmu.ac.uk)
Wed, 19 Jul 95 10:41:10 BST

Am I alone in being sick of the browser wars entering into discussions here?

I see it on enough newsgroups and on enough pages thoughout the world as it is.
Lets be honest for a change, these newsgroups and mailing lists are about the
World Wide Web, the Internet, the presentation of information to a wider
audience than the internet previously allowed because of command line symantics
and old fashioned hostile interfaces.

We will soon be showing these things to children in developing countries, they
are not interested in formats, in whats best, they want to see what you all
look like and what the world looks like. They can do this perfectly well with
HTML2.0 as it stands. We wont be worried about the browser we will take over
there, it wont appear as a God on our agenda, we are teaching about the
internet and what it does, and about how you can travel it with the WEB. We
want to show them what is possible.

The web is about educating people and showing them things, its about talking to each other. For once we dont have to worry about getting the language right, we dont all have to worry about which sort of rs232 connector to use to plug in,
that is irrelevent, its history.

Or so the hype goes.
The hype also seems to be plugging people to death about
which products they should use. I get sick of hearing TV shows and twee
magazines ranting about the newest thing in the universe to play with. I attend
conferences designed for businesses (in a technical capacity)with an aim in mind of educating them as to the possibilities of the internet and the web. I
frequently find these flaws:

1) The perception that the Internet IS the WEB
2) a) The perception that Netscape is the WEB, is the Internet, is the one true
piece of software, will do it all for you etc
b) The perception that Netscape is HTML, that the extensions are
non-extensions i.e - the real thing. Just think about the word extension and
what it means!!
3) That everyone else sees things this way
4) That business should control the internet (I kid you not, I have a quote
from a number of speakers)
5) That this is all a brand new and frightening creature with almighty powers,
that it will cure baldness, slam your taking through the roof, increase your
corporate profile and make you look 'cool'.

This is all hype, its all incorrect, and its being propogated all over the
world be people who have vested interests, short term goals and absolutely do
not have the best interests of this community at heart. It is the cult of self
interest married to the cult of narrow-mindedness.

I have not found any basis for the claim that netscape have 60% of the market
anywhere except from netscapes own touts. What I have seen is a dedicated fan
club flogging the product for all it is worth to people who are net-iliterate
but eager to do things right, in the context of points 1-5 above. I hear junk
about netscapes extensions being HTML 3 - wrong, I hear junk about the highest
hitting sites are only those who use such extensions - wrong.

Dont get me wrong, Im not a netscape hater, I dont doggedly adhere to mosaic -
the oft quoted only rival to netscape. But I tire of having these childish wars
on forums designed to further understanding and cooperation on the WEB.

Surely it is the information purveyed and the possibilities that are paramount!
Not one product in many.
For my defense my creds are that I have been in the web design business for 2
years, and clearly remember when it was all academic and research based.
Its important to point this out to businesses, especially those who think that
they ought to 'control' the internet, get it away from those researchers hands.

Most of the work being propogated and pursued with an aim to extending the
features available to us is still performed by these institutions, most of whom
dont have the time to be worrying about which browser sells most, they are
after all interested in the concept of the web itself and the best means of
displaying information for all.

On our site we use a number of browsers, Mosaic (UNIX, PC and MAC), Netscape
(UNIX & PC), Arena 0.96 & 0.97, Lynx and cern line browsers, and several other
less well known ones.
I design pages for business, organisations and academic alike, and only if a
'customer' requires and is absolutely sure they want a specific set of
extensions, thereby in my opinion limiting their viewable market, then I will
design with those extensions - tailor made !
Some companies - this is fine, they dont want anything more than a specific
market, they are not too fussed about how their pages will appear to the larger non-specific market.
I am always at pains to point out that the extensions drift away form the
HTML 3.0 draft spec, and that when this becomes the definate article, companies who produce their own private versions of HTML are going to lose out.

For some time now I have been under the impression that Netcom are trying to
drive the web their way, they dont want to adhere to anyone elses point of
view, they dont want in on the new drafts, if you think this is crap - go see
the handbook on extensions and read the comments.

Why is this? Open YOUR eyes rcolman , this is a company product, people will
pay money for it, people will be dictated to, and the company will benefit by
its captive audience. This is not the WEB, it is not expression of information
to all, its not providing information to as big an audience as you can.
Netscape and mosaic are merely tools, they are not the web, they are not HTML.
Dont flame me for pointing this out, but if you and your colleagues wont even
think twice before limiting your audience, then maybe you should. Its only a
tool, and one tool in many used to purvey the information.

Id like to point out that the millions of browser users, most of whom came
online since last september (if figures Ive seen are correct) do not actually
run sites, they are swept along in a hype of 'this is all new and heres what
you shold use'- often purveyed by the clueless (TV) and interested parties.

Instead of using these channels to join in the misinformation revolution, use
them for some constructive talk please.

Apologies for spooling mistooks, typos, flames, and anyone who might take

Steve Nisbet
Web Admin
Department of Computing, MMU

http://www.doc.mmu.ac.uk/ (This ones not 'netscape' enhanced, but it has
some pages sub to it that are)

"The first WWW should ne 'When, Where and Why"

The usual blurb about these being my opinions and not those of my company