Let’s take a trip down memory lane, shall we? There was a time when you’d send off an email, and not have complete confidence it would reach it’s destination properly intact. Web site developers/managers used to have to build multiple versions of their sites just to make sure the presentation was as desired. Also, you may recall hearing about some new cool Internet company, but by the time you got home, can’t recall it’s somewhat goofy name. Quick check, is it 10 years ago, or yesterday?
I really can’t believe how bad the state of email is. There’s so much anti-spam safeguards in place that it’s now “the norm” to see an email from a very trusted source sitting in the junk box, or worse yet, killed by the ISP. This problem is exacerbated for people like myself who have independent domain names, which inevitably get taken over by automatic spam “bots”. I use the mass-BCC trick for sending my geek dinner emails, and each month one or two people send me a note telling me it got stuck in the trash. It is absolutely pathetic that there is no way to guarantee emails between trusted relationships. Shame on everyone from Barracuda to Microsoft to Google for not having a solution in place, or even on the horizon. I especially don’t understand the 28 percent of users who say “spam is not a problem” in their worlds!
Next up: Web browsers. There’s no doubt that Internet Explorer versions 4, 5, and 6’s near-complete dominance of the browser market had its down side. But other than lackluster performance and a weak, outdated feature set, I’m not sure what it was. The Web, for lack of a better phrase, just worked! Now we have IE6 and 7 on the market, we have Safari (terrible), and Firefox, all with a distributed share of users. Sure this sounds good – Democracy In Action, yay! – but all I know is I see more and more Web sites broken for one or more browsers, all the time. I don’t know exactly whose fault it is, but at least when Microsoft ran the show building Web sites was straightforward and reliable.
Okay, that’s enough ranting for the day, but seriously – why are we (we being the technology industry as a whole) allowing the basics to drop into such a deplorable state? Maybe we need a little less attention on the AJAX and Wikis, and a little more on the things that impact core productivity. It’s analogous to the cell phone industry, building really pretty-looking phones that can capture and stream TV-quality video, but still drop calls and have terrible battery life.
But I do have hope that by 2017 it’ll be a little better. Not much, mind you, but a little.