3 minute read

 Now this I can totally relate to.

“Today we secretly replaced the hive-mind of Slashdot with Folger’s Crystals – let’s see if anybody notices…”

As always, I’ve been watching Slashdot lately. To recap for those of you who may have missed what’s going on, here are a few recent post titles:

– “Firefox use up .00032%”

– “Firefox use up .0078% in Tennessee”

– “Microsoft employee admits to using Firefox”

– Etc.

Outside Slashdot, something else happens that I find interesting: Often, when someone learns that I work for Microsoft, one of the first things I’m told is, “I use Firefox,” and it’s accompanied by a defiant look, as though I’m supposed lose control over my bowels and ruin a perfectly good pair of shorts upon hearing the news that Morton B. Pumpernickel isn’t using my company’s browser anymore.

I’m not sure what it is that drives people to want to tell me that, but I wanted to state, for anyone of this mindset who might be reading, that I don’t care.

I understand the implications of Firefox as a threat to Microsoft. With XUL, and with a host of applications that run inside the browser, Firefox isn’t just a web browser, but a platform as well. As users grow accustomed to running applications inside of Firefox, they will eventually begin to pay little attention to the platform on which Firefox itself is running. In most cases, right now, I think we can safely assume that this platform is Windows. As long as these users are comfortable with Firefox, they’ll pay more attention to whether or not a particular platform has Firefox rather than what the platform actually is, and some might just go for the cheapest platform, which will often not be Windows.

And still, I don’t care.

Not “I don’t care about the threat,” but more “I don’t care that you run Firefox.”

There’s something that has always irritated me about rebellion without any purpose, and something tells me that a lot of people who switch to Firefox aren’t aware of why they’re switching to Firefox. Beyond the usual “I have a friend who told me that IE sux0rz, so I switched,” there are probably few people who have a real grasp of what the change implies (in other words, I’m not criticizing Firefox, or saying that it’s a bad product – I’m talking smack about the slack-jawed ape-people who switch to it just to be “cool”).

It reminds me quite a bit of the move to Linux a few years ago. I could hear the implied high-five slap whenever two nerds agreed that “Wind0ze sux0rz and Linux r0x0rz.” Was there any technical justification for the pride? Not usually. I knew some very intelligent people who were very into Linux, and who could do a good job of explaining why Linux worked for them in certain situations, but I also knew a lot of non geek types who switched just because it was cool to trash Microsoft.

I’ve been fascinated for most of my life with the human tendency to rebel en masse. When I was in high school, everybody decided one day that the music on the radio sucked, and so they rebelled by becoming followers of what has since become known as “alternative rock.” They complained that commercial music had no individuality, and that it had no soul. They all put on the same clothing to demonstrate their solidarity, the movement became very widespread, and within a year, every radio station on the planet was playing “alternative rock,” every fifteen year-old was wearing a plaid flannel shirt, Pearl Jam was giving concerts beneath Budweiser banners, and little preppy bastards like me became the minority. My entire generation was one solid voice, screaming, in unison and in uniform, “I’M DIFFERENT!”

Isn’t that funny? I think that’s funny. Rebellion can be such a sheepy activity.

Now people tell me with the same angsty indignation that they’re no longer using IE and that they’ve switched to the next most popular browser.

I wonder how they type out URLs with their hooves…