A story of Cane and Able and the browser that rode a chariot

Back in the early days of the web, there were two browsers. For the sake of our story, we’ll call them “Cane” and “Able”.

Cane and Able could do many of the same things: serve web pages, run scripts, display pictures, and provide for interaction among the Small Beings who became dependent on them. However, Cane did something that Able couldn’t: it rode a mighty chariot and because of this, could replicate itself at will and did so, willy nilly, until one couldn’t go to the marketplace without Cane appearing in front of you. Able, though a solid performer, didn’t have this ability, and over time it fell further and further back into the shadows cast by Cane’s light.

Eventually, Cane grew arrogant with its power, and begin to do things that Able couldn’t, or wouldn’t, do. It demanded that the world change to suit it, rather than it having to suit the world. It broke laws, and then laughed with impunity at the Small Beings who protested. It’s ways played havoc and soon the world fell into a chaos of incompatibility–with little buttons appearing on web pages, each announcing the page’s allegiance: either to Able, or to Cane.

Web page developers wailed and gnashed their teeth at Cane’s cruelty; forced to don sack cloth and smear themselves with ashes as they took up the weight of the cross-browser; herded into this burden by the demands of a world seemingly mesmerized by a spinning blue orb and people who jumped about like monkeys.

Cane was content, for a time, with this devotion–tossing a crumb now and again to the masses as reward; exciting them anew and pushing poor Able away until, finally, exhausted and depleted of resources, Able succumbed to its fates and entered a dark and vast void, to fade away until few remembered its name. Cane, then, was left alone–to stand on a hill and look around it and gloat in its power.

The world, also, was content with Cane’s dominance. Content, that is, until Cane, satiated by feeding on the souls of millions, fell into a somnolence; leaving the Small Beings to pick their way through, however they could, the debris of its passing.

Dark Things came out of the night and plagued the Small Beings. Things that tore at them and took from them and left them dressed in tattered rags. The Small Beings were sore afraid, and shivering in their nakedness, cried softly among themselves and wondered if there could be any to save them.

But all was not lost. Among the ashes of Able’s passing, a new hope was rising–the child of Able. This child was weak at first, as all children are. It moved slowly about gathering strength until finally, one day, the world became aware of its movements. As the child of Able grew, it cast light into the shadows on the land, and the people basked in its gentle warmth, smiled at is kindly tickling.

The Small Beings then turned an eye to the dark unmoving Mass that was Cane and cried out, “What have you done to us?” “Why have you forsaken us?” But Cane was too lost in sleep to waken, to indifferent to the puny cries of those whose only purpose was to service it, and the chariot it rode.

Able heard, though, and reached out to succor the people, to give them hope. Soon, many of the world were turned away from the spinning blue orb to feast on a new vista–one based on the fire of re-birth rather than the despair of old, cold greed.

This Small Being and that Small Being woke from their dreamless night and embraced the fire, and Able grew in numbers until one day, Cane was moved to awaken and when it looked about itself, grew alarmed at the loss of those who would worship it. “This will never do”, it thought to itself, and begin anew to weave a web to draw back in those who would drift away.

It appeared before the masses as a humbled shell of its former self, and begged forgiveness for past abuse. It promised to do better, to not break the laws, to bring about nothing but goodness. It even embraced this child of its own nemeses, this new Able, and promised to work as brethren rather than adversaries.

Still, the people were reluctant to embrace this, their old overlord. They remembered the too many years of darkness and confusion and were hesitant to believe in Cane’s newfound humility. Desperate to find a hook with which to lure the Small Beings back, Cane looked about and spotted a mob within the masses, a noisy mob that pretended to great power and felt a strange form of kinship with this mob. “These are as like to me as no other”, Cane thought. It also noticed that the mob waved a flag above its head, a flag that looked as follows:

“Aha!”, it thought to itself. “If I were to wave this flag, too, all my past ills will be forgotten and I will be as beloved as I once was before I abandoned these Small Beings to their fate.” So Cane grabbed the flag and waved it most strenuously and cried out its joy in the Cause and its promise of adherence to all that was righteous in the land. And many of the people looked on from their commune with 864 others of their kind and saw that this was good.

Times had changed, though, in the aeons since Cane slept. Though the new Cane was lithesome in many eyes, others noticed that it still rode a chariot where other browsers walked. More, this was a new chariot: one that was wider and taller and more massive and as such, could not reach into the places where once it had traveled. Because Cane rode this new chariot, many of its followers would be left in the dark when it finally arose into the sky.

Those that noticed this questioned why this was so and Cane, puzzled, could only reply that it had to ride this chariot in order to be safe. Many nodded, of course–Cane had to ride the chariot in order to be safe.

But, questioned those naysayers, those irritants, those not with the program: could not Cane learn to walk as other browser do? Walk and still be safe? Walk, like the child of Able can walk? Walk, like Able’s friends, the songster and the lion? Walk so that all may share it’s glory?

Cane just laughed, and the sound was as of a thousand coins of gold rained down from the heavens. Many heard the laughter, and felt comforted. Others, though, knew Cane for what it was: the same Cane as old, only polished, shiny and new.