March 20, 2009

can't let dave down

Dave Winer has mentioned Firefox in about 100 posts. I've mentioned Dave Winer in fewer than 10 posts. So, it's a bit of a stretch for Dave to claim that when ever he writes about Firefox I flame.

But, as he's given me a nice cameo in his post, I think it would be impolite to let Dave Winer down so here's my flame.

(update: Dave edited his post to remove the parts about me.)

Dave is a scenester who doesn't understand shit about the other the 1.3 billion regular people who engage with the Web. If he did, he wouldn't write the kind of mindless, bubbled-in crap he so regularly does. The amazing progress of the Web, thanks to browser innovations led by Firefox, is quite obvious to normal people living outside of Dave's geekscene and that's precisely what Dave's missing.

Just a few examples:

The Awesomebar has changed the Web. IE implemented a variant of it, Opera implemented something similar. Chrome seems to have done the same. It really has changed how people navigate the Web in a fundamental way. Maybe not for Dave, but for several hundred million "normal" people, it has.

Web protocol handlers have changed the Web and allowed Web applications to become first-class citizens in the minds of normal users. That you can click a mailto: link and have it open a Gmail message compose window is fucking huge. Firefox did that.

Firefox's Web feed discovery and handling has done more to popularize and mainstream Dave's precious RSS than just about anything else in the last decade, including all of Dave's software efforts. If Web feeds matter today it's in large part because Firefox made them accessible to regular people.


7,000+ add-ons for Firefox have made scores of new Web products viable and compelling (and profitable) as well as giving an unprecedented level of customization to tens of millions of Web browser users. Ignoring Firefox's (yes, that community exists because Firefox exists) extension community that's served more than 1 billion downloads and fundamentally changed what a Web browser is, that's more of what Dave's apparently missing.

Finally, that Dave can conclude security and privacy is boring and unimportant is only precisely because we've decided to make it a priority at Mozilla. That's how it works. If we hadn't decided it was important, Dave would be fucked online and he'd be begging for help with a completely broken Web.

As for moving forward in interesting and fun ways, I'm gonna assert that Dave doesn't know what constitutes fun and interesting for normal people. I've traveled the world for the last 7 or 8 years talking to people outside of Dave's geek-elite scene and almost all of them are pretty damned impressed with how much more capable and enjoyable the Web's become thanks to Firefox.

There are three browsers with any appreciable market share and ability to influence what's fun and interesting about the Web. IE and Safari both have OS bundling to thank for pretty much their entire share and they would mostly be sitting on their asses the way that Microsoft did from 2001 through 2006 if it wasn't for Firefox's assault. If the Web is a more interesting and fun place than it was in 2001, Dave should be thanking Firefox for pretty much all of that. If the Web is more interesting and fun because of renewed browser competition, Dave should be thanking Mozilla for that.

(Oh, and Dave, what ever happened to your welcomed promise to quit blogging?)

Posted by asa at 6:00 PM