The Web works like a bicycle

Subject: The Web works like a bicycle
From: "Glenn Maxey" <glenn -dot- maxey -at- voyanttech -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Wed, 5 Sep 2001 10:24:23 -0600

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Simon North [mailto:north -at- synopsys -dot- COM]
> Sent: Wednesday, September 05, 2001 7:34 AM
> Subject: Re: Web works? (Was: Diverse Tools (was HTML editors))
> The Web works like a bicycle works as a form of transport; that
> doesn't stop me wishing it were a Porsche.

I like this analogy.

However, as someone who owns five bicycles, I can't say that I ever wish
for a Porsche. And those who do wish for Porsches I think _are_ being
elitists. Fast cars are overrated for what you get. Do the math:

- Increased speed equals increased fuel consumption. How many people or
how much stuff can you haul in a two-seater Porsche?

- Even when you can drive fast, the time savings for most trips is
negligible and can literally be pissed away at some rest stop.

- What advantage does a faster car give you if the Yugo in the next lane
can keep up with you? All roads have legal speed limits based on the
amount of traffic. Can you say "rush hour" and "traffic jam?"

- All roads have speed limits based on physics; you either slow down or
you won't make the turn. Can you say "dead man's corner?"

- How long in seconds can you fiddle with the dials of your radio or the
buttons on your cellphone before your inattention from driving coupled
with the speed you are traveling causes something irreversible? Humans
have finite reaction times and limited attention spans. (I actually
prefer sub-70 m.p.h. speeds even when given the opportunity for more in
Montana or on the overrated Autobahns of Germany. Less white-knuckled
driving, less stress, and less danger.)

- How many speeding tickets can you afford before you lose your license
and can't drive period?

A bicycle can be a very good thing. A bicycle gives pre-teenagers their
first taste of mobility and freedom. A bicycle can get you from point A
to point B just like the Porsche while offering some exercise and fresh
air. A bicycle can haul things, much more than many of us imagine; just
think about how it is an economic enabler in poor countries.

Getting back to your analogy, HTML may very well be a bicycle. It is
accessible to everyone. Everyone can see how it works and in most cases
effect their own maintenance and repair. It accomplishes what it was
designed to do, dependably without mechanics or filling stations.
(However, sometimes tools do make it easier to grease its chain and keep
the tires inflated to 90 p.s.i.)

Keeping with your analogy, then Microsoft Word for Windows must be the
Porsche that you wish for. Slick, that's for sure. Comfortable with
buttons in all the right places. But a proprietary standard. No looking
under the hood there. You are only allowed to drive. Don't even think
about maintenance and repair yourself, because the makers don't even
want you to know where the oil plug is. You got to keep coming back to
the same dealer for factory authorized repairs, otherwise all warranties
are null and void. Pay through the nose and soon only available in a
leased model.

Not only does the Porsche's footprint (e.g., file size) in your garage
take up more space than the bicycle, but it regularly leaves stans on
you garage floor and the tires leak. (Can you say "corrupt files" or
"macro virus"?) And if the power Windows happen to crush your baby's
fingers (e.g., unable to read file), you had already signed your life
away and your first born in an incomprehensible license agreement
anyway; you have no recourse.

So, I admit that both in human transportation and in human
communication, I am all in favor of the cheap bicycle (HTML) over the
expensive, flashy Porsche (proprietary files) any day of the week.

Glenn Maxey
Voyant Technologies, Inc.
Tel. +1 303.223.5164
Fax. +1 303.223.5275
glenn -dot- maxey -at- voyanttech -dot- com


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