Regarding Browsers and Beer

I’m lucky enough to live in a part of the world that has several great small/micro breweries and brew pubs. A lot of things have to be going right for a local economy and society to have luxuries like brew pubs – that’s luck of sorts.

I encourage (sometimes cajole) friends and acquaintances who drink mass-produced beer to try local craft beers. These are beers made with purpose, often trying to make a statement about what a beer can be. In addition to enjoying great tasting beer, we get to support local craftsmen who actually care about making a great product.

Drinking and extolling the virtues of good beer has led to some un-imaginative insults directed my way over the years. Most amount to being called a snob by some who purchase/drink/endorse the mass-produced (always urine-coloured) swill from large scale breweries.

In my town, we even have a really old brewery who’s founder is an historical icon and former mayor. It’s owned by a multi-national now, and produces a hugely popular beer with a cult-like following. It’s exactly the kind of mainstream badge of honour loyalty you get in most consumer brands – “If you don’t like it there’s something wrong with you”, or “this is what you drink if you’re from here”.

I guess there’s no accounting for taste – literally. Good beer tastes good, bad beer tastes bad. You can interchange any food or drink for the word beer. What we can account for is consumer apathy, brand marketing, ubiquity, price, and the lowest common denominator.

And this brings me to browser market share. It is pointless to argue about which web browser is the best to a non-web developer. People who don’t make websites don’t care about developer tools and modern web standards. For the rest of the world, there are (at least) five kinds of web browser users:

  1. Browser-actualized (a.k.a. Snobs, a.k.a. people who know a good thing when they see it) – Already uses the latest Firefox, Safari, Chrome, or IE (yes, IE11 counts as a good browser)
  2. Scared of change (a.k.a. Trapped in the past) – People who would use a modern browser but their IT department (or some absurd dependence non-web features built into the browser) won’t let them
  3. Wrong-headed – People who for political reasons, indoctrination, or know-it-all-ness use a particular browser
  4. Apathetic – Don’t know and don’t care (use the browser that came on their computer)
  5. Small/Non-Existent Computer Budget – All those old Windows XP systems don’t go to heaven – many are used by people who don’t have the cash to buy a new computer every 4 years.

If you find yourself among the first group, that should be reward enough. You don’t need me to tell you what a good series of life choices you’ve made that led to this point. However, please treat everyone else fairly, and don’t oversell your browser of choice to them. Not everyone has to like the web browser you like. Maybe if they see you genuinely enjoying your browser for long enough, they’ll make the change. Don’t assume that they can change their current browser situation, or that they even care to.