Social Media Standards

Testing Tribel,, and Mastodon

Elon Musk’s Twitter antics are getting harder to ignore, so I’ve joined with others to look at social media competitors in hopes of finding that perfect Twitter alternative.

Hint: there aren’t any.

The Trouble with Tribel

The first app I checked out is Tribel, a social media app created by Omar Rivero, also known as the founder of Occupy Democrats.

Tweet by Omar Rivero talking about founding Tribel

I verbalized Tribel as “tribble” right at the start, which made me inclined to like the service. However, friendly associations aside, Tribel is trouble.

The first red flag for the service was when it asked for age and gender when signing up. There’s absolutely no reason for this type of information unless the people behind Tribel plan on doing some data gathering. If you don’t want the kiddies, then just put a disclaimer in at signup requiring that the person be over 18.


Once reluctantly passed the intrusive sign on, the next roadblock is figuring how the system works.

Tribel doesn’t seem to have the word count limitations of Twitter, and as someone pointed out, you can edit your posts. But the system also forces you into behaviors that are annoying.

For one, you can’t just do a post and publish it to the world. You have to pick your audience, and then you have to select from a gawd-awful huge list of topics and sub-topics. If you choose to submit a personal post, then you can only share it with friends. If you do pick a topic, then it asks if you want to be a Contributor, when all you really want is to publish a damn post.

You could look beyond these design fails, but how people treat you on the service is something you can’t ignore. Woe unto you who criticizes Tribel, the software.

The screenshot below is an example of an exchange I went through when I expressed my unhappiness about some of the Tribel design decisions (specifically, having to choose from a gawd-awful list of topics). I don’t think in my entire life, I’ve been accused of being a traitor to the Democratic cause solely because of tech criticism.

screen capture from Tribel where I was told to get the hell out because of being critical of Tribel's tech

This screenshot demonstrates the biggest problem with Tribel: it is an echo chamber, similar to TruthSocial but falling over on the left. That the members are Democrats, or progressive, or liberal doesn’t matter: it’s an echo chamber; an echo chamber that exhibits zero tolerance for dissent.

I’m a Democrat and a progressive and a liberal…but I’m not a clone or a cult member.

Tribel promises to be a “kinder, smarter network.” It’s anything but. and the 90s live again!

The second social media app I tried was Unlike Tribel, it’s fairly simple to post…once you get past all the 5xx errors from a service that’s being hit with a lot of new signups at the moment (a problem all the apps are experiencing right now with the sudden interest).

Once you can access the site, your first thoughts might be, “The 90s called, and they want their web design back.”

It actually features a scrolling banner at the bottom. Wow, when was the last time you saw a scrolling banner? The rest of site is a jumbled mess of columns, all white text on dark background and featuring a lot of ‘stuff’ including that scrolling banner.

screenshot of featuring scrolling banner on bottom, left

Thankfully, does feature an ostrich mode in preferences that turns off much of the cruft, including the banner. You can access preferences by clicking the three dots next to your profile.

screenshot of with the cruft turned off

There is no option to change the coloring to dark on light. or make it less messy. The most you can do is actually make it more messy by adding more columns of stuff to the page.

Additional functionality including creating groups and lists and modifying the appearance is behind a subscription paywall. The amount you have to pay isn’t very much ($4.99 a month), but having to pay for what should be basic functionality isn’t necessarily conducive to increased participation.

I did find the folks on to be quite friendly. The service is still small enough to have a nicely intimate feel to it. Two things, though, don’t work for me.

The first is the design and layout, which is just too busy and overwhelming. It’s hard to see what’s going on. Even in Ostrich mode, it’s too busy. I suspect even if I could switch to a dark on light background, it would still be too busy.

added more columns to, and it is really messy now

The second concern—and the primary concern—is the fact that the service is controlled by one person.

The app, itself, is a fork of Mastodon (discussed next), by The Jester, a very well known hacktavist. In real life, The Jester is a man named  Jay Bauer.

snapshot of tweet by the jester noting that is a fork of Mastodon

The site promises a hate-free environment, and I have no reason to doubt this isn’t true. Moderation takes resources, though, and we have no idea how many resources has.

The funding for the site is a month-to-month operation. That’s one of the actual design elements: a progress bar tracking whether the month’s funding goal has been met. The site does tend to make its funding fairly quickly during the month, but the nature of the funding and  ownership make the service very precarious.

Frankly, I don’t want to trade one service that was purchased by a billionaire with another that could easily disappear or be sold.

I quit after my first impressions, but then decided to continue giving it a try (I’m @bbird). I might be able to learn to live with the 1990s design, but that single owner is likely to be a no-go for me. This leads me to the next social media app, which goes from one owner to no owner.

I’m on Mastodon. Somewhere.

Mastodon is a fascinating social media application, because unlike Twitter, or Facebook or, no one owns it. Or, I should say, everyone owns it.

My main feed page, using a dark text on light background

Mastodon is a federation of individual servers based on open source software and protocols managed by different groups or people located all over the world. When you sign up for Mastodon, you don’t sign up at a single entry point: you locate and find a server you’re interested in, and then sign up at it.

Once signed up, though, people can follow you regardless of what server they’re on and you can follow them back. So, I’m signed up at as @burningbird, but I can follow @someuser at, and my posts show up for them, and their posts show up on my home page.

Each server may or may not have a waiting list, and each server sets its own moderation rules. In addition, each server may monitor or block other servers that they deem to be the source of spamming, hate, pornography, or misinformation. As an example, you can see a list of filtered, limited, and suspended servers for the Fosstodon Mastodon, to get an idea what type of servers do get moderated and blocked.

In addition, you can sign up at multiple servers if you wish. I’m @burningbird at, but I’m also @burningbird at, and @burningbird at I can keep the separate accounts, or if I decide to stay with just one, I can migrate all my follows/followers to the Mastodon server of my choice. If I do migrate my account from one server to another, we’ll still be connected, and you won’t even know I’ve moved.

Best of all, I can install and setup my own Mastodon server at, and join into the federation—something I am seriously considering. The only downside to this approach is that I won’t have access to folks on a local server when I run my own. Which is why I may stay with an existing server, and why it’s important to sign on to a server that best matches your interest.

(If I do install Mastodon, it would be for personal use. I’ve done the running a server for multiple people in the past, and it was exhausting and very stressful.)

Of course, the freedom to sign up at multiple servers is also one of the problems with Mastodon: there’s no way to know who is authentic and who isn’t. I’ve signed up as @burningbird at three different servers. Someone else can sign up as @burningbird at other servers, and you won’t know who is who without some other way of authenticating the individual. In most cases, you’ll have to find the correct Mastodon user by following a link they’ll provide either at a web site, or other social media app.

(Note that Musk doesn’t consider authentication to be a big thing, since he’s turned the famous Twitter blue authentication checkmark into a marketing brand anyone can buy. I like what one person wrote on Twitter: the blue checkmark will become the equivalent of posting an Amazon Prime subscriber badge.)

From a usability perspective, Mastodon is about the closest experience I’ve found to Twitter, notwithstanding the expected growth issues related to a sudden surge of new users. You start out with light text on dark background, but you can change to the dark text on light background in Preferences. In addition, you can change to slow mode for your feed (new posts require a click rather than automatically scrolling), set image size, determine what happens when an image is hidden and so on.

mastodon preferences page

Unlike which tends to get into your face about contributing funds, the Mastodon servers typically include a request for donations in their About pages, and they’re not pushy about it. Having said this, if you do like Mastodon and you like your server and don’t want it to go away, consider contributing.

Mastodon isn’t owned by corporations, the Saudi government, or some rich guy. Because of the open source nature of the software, and the standardized open protocol of the federated access, trying to buy out Mastodon would be like trying to buy out the web or the entire internet. Not even a big bucks guy like Musk could do it.

What about Bluesky?

In the midst of all of this, Twitter’s original founder Jack Dorsey has popped up with Bluesky—seemingly his version of a federated social media app.

When I first heard about it, I signed up for the beta. If I get invited, I’ll probably check it out for grins and giggles. But will I stay with it? Unlikely.

To me, the biggest strike against Bluesky is the fact that Dorsey chose to go his own way on designing the federated protocol for Bluesky—the AT protocol—rather than work with the open source and open standards community. This type of arrogant indifference to open standards and its “I know what’s right, and I’m doing it my own way” attitude just stinks. I’ve seen it too much and have fought against it for years. I certainly don’t need to buy into it because one technocrat thinks he know better than anyone else.

Dave Troy touched on much of this in an in-depth piece that discusses Dorsey, his relationships with Musk, and their world views. What he wrote made me wary even before discovering the AT protocol. Read it, and form your own judgement.

Ultimately, it’s not the application or the technology: it’s the people

After testing the three tools, I’ve decided to stay with Mastodon. I’m still exploring the network, still considering what server I want to live on, but what I’ve seen pleases the open source “can’t be owned by rich assholes” part of me.

However, I’m not quite ready to give up Twitter, and it’s not because I’m enamored of the app. I actually find Mastodon to be better tech fit for me. No, leaving Twitter means leaving the best part of Twitter, the part that Elon Musk can’t and will never understand:

The people.

I have built relationships with folks out on Twitter. I have a good group of very smart people I follow and interact with. They’re in technology, Constitutional law, food safety, the environment, politics, news, and life. They can write amazing things in a very small space. They can convince, inform, instill wonder, spark outrage, inspire thoughtfulness, and make me laugh.

A platform’s technology is such an unimportant component of social media. Yes, you want to prevent security hacks, and you need to scale your app to fit the demand. Social media applications are complex and take real skill to manage. I’m not disparaging the abilities of the people who maintain a social media app.

But it’s the people that make the social media app, not the other way around.

Elon Musk doesn’t understand this. He never will. And it’s why I’m investing time in other platforms and encouraging others to do the same. Because someday I hope all the wonderful people I connect with on Twitter will be somewhere else, and I can kiss Twitter good-bye.

And in case you decide to pursue a Mastodon account, find me at @burningbird. Or you can always find me here, at Burningbird.

Government Standards

Corporate food production interests yank the chains of Congress

Second update

House just can’t wait to pass this bill. It goes to the Floor on Thursday. Note: there is no comparable bill in the Senate.

stirring up a batter of trouble


In the ultimate of ironies, the Senate passed an amendment to their appropriation bill, that would require genetically modified salmon be given a GMO label. How to explain the inconsistencies?

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R., Alaska)…downplayed concerns that salmon labeling would set a precedent for labeling biotech crops saying, “Corn doesn’t swim from one field to another and propagate with corn in another state. Fish move. Fish escape,” she said.

No, no. No one has ever heard of pollen floating on the breeze and contaminating organic crops.

How can you tell if Vermont will prevail in the lawsuit filed against its new GMO labeling law, Act 120? Easy: Congress decides to create a national anti-GMO labeling law. More on this in a moment. First, though, a recap on the court challenge.

In April, Judge Christina Reiss issued a decision denying in part and granting in part Vermont’s motion for dismissal, and denying, outright, the *plaintiff’s motion for preliminary injunction. The latter means that when you consider how speedy civil cases of this nature proceed through the court system, Vermont’s GMO label law will be able to go into effect in 2016.

The Judge quickly dismissed the dormant Commerce Clause challenge to the GMO labeling. After all, the basis for this challenge is that a state law must discriminate against out of state interests, and Vermont’s law applies to in-state as well as out-of-state interests. The decision also reflects a growing push-back against the application of the dormant Commerce Clause, possibly reflecting the Supreme Court’s own ambivalence about its application. I particularly liked the Judge noting that Vermont’s GMO labeling law won’t lead to a “patchwork of state laws”, because no other state has implemented a GMO labeling law, and hence, no inconsistency is introduced with Vermont’s law.

The Judge did feel that the plaintiff’s claim about the law’s reference to the use of “natural” on labels was strong enough to warrant denying Vermont’s request to dismiss the Commerce Clause challenge related to it. Yeah, that was one Vermont would have been best to just leave out of the GMO law.

In my original writing on the law, and the legal pushback from Lauren Handel, we felt the strongest challenge to the Vermont law was the Supremacy Clause, and whether the law was expressly preempted by the labeling requirements in the FMIA (Federal Meat Inspections Act) and PPIA (Poultry Products Inspection Act). The FDA’s FDCA and NLEA are both quite amenable to state labeling requirements, so aren’t really a challenge. The FMIA and PPIA, however, do have strict label requirements, and do assume federal authority of said labels.

Vermont was aware of this, and built into Act 120 exemptions related to meat and meat products, which should encompass those products that would be covered under the FMIA and PPIA. Where we felt there was the possibility of conflict was a product like soup. Soup is a manufactured product and, we assume, would be covered by Vermont’s Act 120. Soup can either contain meat products, or not. If the meat content exceeds 3% raw, or 2% cooked meat, then it would be managed by the USDA; otherwise, it’s managed by the FDA. This soup conundrum reflects the truly mish-mash nature of food safety handling in the US.

Since Campbells is part of the group suing Vermont, I fully expected soup to raise it’s head at some point. If it did, though, it quickly ducked. According to Judge Reiss’ decision:

In opposing dismissal and seeking preliminary injunctive relief, Plaintiffs narrow their FMIA and PPIA preemption claims to argue that some GE food products that contain meat, poultry, and eggs which do not fall within Act 120’s exemption for products “consisting entirely of or derived entirely from an animal,” 9 V.S.A. § 3044(1), are regulated for labeling purposes by the FMIA or the PPIA. They identify canned meat and poultry products and pre-made frozen meals containing meat or poultry as examples of products that fall within both statutory frameworks. In their Amended Complaint and declarations, however, Plaintiffs fail to identify even one of their members who produces a non-exempt GE food product that is covered by the FMIA or PPIA.

In other words, something like chicken noodle soup would either be exempt under the Vermont law, or isn’t a food product covered by the FMIA or PPIA. According to the FSIS guidelines:

Although FSIS has jurisdictional authority over food labeling for products containing meat and poultry, the FMIA and the PPIA explicitly authorize USDA (through FSIS) to exempt from its regulatory coverage food products which contain meat or poultry “only in relatively small portion or historically have not been considered by consumers as products of the meat food industry …

Soup is, typically, not considered a product of the meat industry, no matter how much meat it contains. And let’s face it: most canned soups really aren’t brimming with meat.

If there are no products not exempt under Vermont Act 120, but governed by the FMIA and PPIA, the plaintiffs can’t establish standing for this particular challenge. The only reason the Judge did not dismiss the preemption challenge outright is because the plaintiffs argued there may be small food producers who are making such a product who haven’t been identified yet.

We can only imagine food producers all over the country are working late into the night, trying to create and market some product that falls between the infinitely tiny crack that may exist between the Act 120 exemptions, and FMIA and PPIA governance.

Judge Reiss than took on the First Amendment challenge to Act 120. The plaintiffs claimed Act 120 violates corporate freedom of speech because Act 120 is “a politically motivated speech regulation”—it compels political speech. Well, this is just plain rubbish. The Judge agreed, though more tactfully:

A manufacturer who is required to disclose whether its products contain certain ingredients is not compelled to make a political statement even if such a statement “links a product to a current public debate” because “many, if not most, products may be tied to public concerns with the environment, energy, economic policy, or individual health and safety.”

The more compelling challenge related to freedom of speech was whether Act 120’s disclosure requirement is nothing more than just a satisfaction of consumer curiosity. This is what torpedoed Vermont’s statute related to labeling milk that contains recombinant Bovine Somatotropin (“rBST”) or recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone (“rBGH”). However, unlike that statute, Act 120 did raise the debate about the safety of GMO products, in addition to other factors:

Act 120’s “Findings” and “Purpose” extend beyond the mere appeasement of consumer curiosity, and the State emphasizes that it is not making the concessions it made in IDFA. It cites to what it characterizes as an ample legislative record documenting the scientific debate about the safety of GE ingredients and the studies that have produced positive, negative, and neutral results. This record includes studies about the safety of consuming GE plant-based foods, as well as studies about the environmental impacts of GE and GE crops. The State also points to its interest in accommodating religious beliefs about GE, as well as its interest in providing factual information for purposes of informed consumer decision-making.

The Judge did feel the intermediate scrutiny of Act 120 as it relates to the First Amendment was a question of law, and should be debated during the court hearing related to the case. Therefore, Vermont’s motion to dismiss was denied. However, the Judge also felt that the plaintiffs were unlikely to prevail in this challenge in the court, and their request for a preliminary injunction was denied.

Judge Reiss wrote a long, thoughtful, and careful decision. Though the plaintiffs case was not dismissed outright, many of its challenges were dismissed, or had doubt cast on them as to their viability. And that leads us to HR 1559, the so-called Safe and Affordable Food Act, which just advanced from committee to the House floor. How can you tell if Vermont will prevail in the lawsuit filed against its new GMO labeling law, Act 120? Easy: Congress decides to create a national anti-GMO labeling law.

This bill seeks to preemptively undercut Vermont’s Act 120, before it has a chance to take effect. Many of its proponents are people who consider themselves tried and true “states rights” advocates…well, up and until a northern state, like Vermont, passes a bill that goes counter to select interests in their state. Can’t have them uppity Northerners telling nice southern and midwestern corporate boys what to do, no sirree.

Regardless of your stance on GMO and labeling, the bill should give you pause because it seeks to use Congress to bypass state statutes that reflect the interest of the people of the state and that have withstood a constitutional challenge.

That latter is important. Vermont’s Act 120 isn’t seeking to prevent gays from marrying or women from having access to abortion. It’s a statute impacting on commerce that ensures additional information is provided to consumers. More importantly, it’s a statute that has not failed in the courts—has not proven to be unconstitutional.

It has long been the right of states to impose stricter restrictions on commerce, particularly commerce related to food production, as long as such a restriction doesn’t unfairly impact out-of-state interests. Revoking this right because corporate agricultural interests aren’t happy about disclosing certain information is the proverbial slippery step to undermining other state laws related to food production and safety.

Want to drink raw milk? You can in states that allow it, but not in states that don’t, but this could easily change if the raw milk dairies had enough influence in Congress. Want to allow cottage industries to sell meat products or other food items long restricted? Again, no problem…if the industries have enough influence.

Of course, that’s the real key, isn’t it? These other industries don’t have the power to bring about change at the Congressional level, and that’s not a bad thing. But the GMO labeling law impacts on the very powerful, very wealthy, and very influential chemical, biotech, and food manufacturing interests, and therefore, this particular state law triggers Congressional action. And it does so not in the interests of the consumer—it is a deliberate attempt to withhold information from the consumer. Only the powerful benefit from this bill.

Regardless of your views on GMO labeling, you must deplore such an obvious act of buying Congress.

The biotech, chemical, food manufacturing et al interests have their chances in the court. Our Constitution is giving them their chance. They have the ability to bring their best arguments to the table and defeat Act 120…in the court. With this House bill, they chose not to do so. Instead, they’re putting pressure on Congress, and Congress is allowing them to. It’s a dirty move that is no less dirty because you may not agree with GMO labeling.

* The plaintiffs have filed an appeal related to the denial of a preliminary injunction, and asked for expedited handling of the appeal. This request has been granted, with back and forth filings due by September 8th.

HTML5 Specs

The HTML5 longdesc attribute is finally home again

My HTML5 logo

I found out that the W3C had transitioned the HTML5 attribute @longdesc to Candidate Recommendation (CR) status from a tweet by John Foliot:

Yes, I believe I do owe John a beer. I owe a beer to all of those who fought to ensure @longdesc made it to CR—especially Laura Carlson, who worked so diligently on behalf of this attribute, and other HTML5 accessibility features.

Years ago I was heavily involved in the W3C HTML5 effort, though I was frequently at odds with Ian Hickson, HTML5’s sole editor at the time, and some of the Working Group’s management. Since then, the W3C has transitioned the care and management of HTML back into a group effort, leading to decisions such as giving @longdesc CR status.

I don’t agree with all W3C decisions, but my main concern has always been that the decisions reflect a representation of those who support or depend on the web—not just an elite few. The transition of @longdesc to CR status demonstrates that the HTML5 working process has, indeed, grown up.

Well done.


Letting go of the passion can be a good thing

For years I battled with members of the WhatWG and others over elements and attributes in HTML. Months, we’d go back and forth about the usefulness of the details element, or in passionate defense of the beleaguered longdesc.

I wrote hundreds of pages in defense of RDF over Microdata; the virtues of SVG in addition to Canvas; and what the hell does it really mean when we talk about web accessibility?

But I lost a lot of the interest in fighting over markup about the same time it seemed most of us became burned out on the never ending debates. I dived into the exciting possibilities of Node.js, while also exploring, more deeply, the world outside of technology. My interests were split between JavaScript and circus elephants, web technologies and sustainable food systems. Along the way, I lost the passion I felt about finding the one true way for forward movement of the web. The technologies are still important to me, yes, but I had lost the pounding insistence of rightness I felt about individual components, and even entire systems. And once the noise in my own head seemed to quiet, I could hear others—their passion, their sense of what’s right.

The real epiphany came when I was reviewing Kurt Cagle’s upcoming book, “HTML5 Graphics with SVG and CSS3”. In the book, Kurt has a chapter on HTML5 where he demonstrated an unconventional HTML web page that blasted apart all I thought I knew about what is a proper web page. It did so because as chaotic seeming as it is, it’s still a valid web page. I couldn’t see the validity of the page, though, because I had been rigidly holding on to a perspective about HTML that really was over, done with, gone.

Never to return.

I had been seeing the web through XHTML colored glasses. In the past, I had been trying to map the precision and order that exemplifies XHTML with the loose but more nuanced flow that is HTML5, and there really is no philosophical compatibility between the two. Kurt’s example forced me to see HTML5 it all its raw essence, for lack of a better word. And what blows me away is realizing that browser companies, as well as many web developers, designers, and folks interested in accessibility prefer HTML5, even at its messiest, over the ordered world of XHTML. They do so not because they embrace chaos, but because they saw something in the future of HTML I didn’t.

I don’t seek a second epiphany that would allow me to view the web through their eyes. My passions have gone elsewhere. In the world of technology, my focus now is on JavaScript and Node, and all the new adventures that seem to be exploding about both. HTML is complimentary to my interests, but not central. It is now nothing more than a tool; essential to developing with JavaScript and in ensuring accessibility of my published words, yes, but still just a tool.

HTML is a passion for others, though, and I respect that passion because I respect them. If the people I respect assure me, knowledgeably and with conviction, that using certain elements in a certain way will ensure my web pages are accessible for all across a variety of mediums, I will pay attention. When next I take on the grand redesign of my web sites (typically an itch I must scratch on average every three to four years), I will modify my pages accordingly. I do so not because I believe in the technology, but because I believe in the people.


Response to a recent posting in Google+

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

My response to a recent post in Google+ by Ian Hickson:

You’re comparing apples to oranges, +Ian Hickson. There’s a world of difference between developing a specific piece of software and creating a specification.

In addition, you’re also incorrect with your understanding of the ‘tech lead model’. You may have worked on a lot of specs, but I’ve worked on a lot of projects for a great number of companies. What you’re saying is, well, hogwash.

Typically, software applications are defined for one specific use: a business use with well defined and finite customers who provide detailed instructions (user requirements) about what they want.

The tech team meets regularly with the users, and the users—or the group of people representing the users—are the ones that have the final say on the product.

There is usually an overall architect if the project is large—but they don’t just think up what’s needed on their own, and attempt to tell the users what they want. And the architect doesn’t work in a vacuum. The data people are the ones responsible for data design, and others are responsible for other decisions, such as types of equipment to purchase and software to use. Then there’s the testing team, the user acceptance folks, the documentation people, and so on.

I’ve worked on a couple of systems, including support for Saudi Arabia’s air force defense system, where the numbers of people in the team number into the hundreds. Someone playing King of the Mountain wouldn’t last a day.

It is very much a team effort.

And many of these teams work really well. I’ve been privileged to work with great teams at Boeing, Nike, Sierra Geophysics (a Halliburton subsidiary), John Hancock, and various other companies and government organizations. One key thing about all of the teams is the understanding of the importance of each team member, that no one is King of the Mountain, and cooperation and mutual respect is the name of the game.

The problem with your comment Ian, and others of like nature, is you really don’t have much exposure in the real world. You really haven’t worked that many jobs for many companies. You’ve insulated yourself in a tech bubble and you seem to believe if you say something with enough surety and confidence, others will believe you. True, some do, but primarily only among others like yourself, who typically haven’t a significant exposure to real world development.

You’re all spec wonks.

Being a spec wonk isn’t a bad thing, and brings its own expertise to the table—but it definitely doesn’t somehow magically make you all capable of understanding what everyone needs.

Because you’re all spec wonks, it’s especially important to get feedback and input from others who do have the real world experience you lack. But you just don’t see that. If anything, you seem to hold real world experience against people.

“Oh, I’ve done more spec work than any of these people. What do they know about specs?”

They may not know the mechanics of how a spec is worded, they may not have a lot of experience building browsers, but they definitely know what works outside the offices of Mozilla, Google, Opera, Microsoft, and Apple.

You know what’s funny, but in the teams I worked with, the most important player was the end user. We used to complain—loudly—if we couldn’t get access to reps from the business end. We needed these people because they knew what the application needed to do in order to be successful. We wanted to create successful applications.

The browser companies, they’ve forgotten all of this. They cater to a small portion of end users—most decidedly geek—and have ignored anyone else in their push to Be First with the latest gewgaw.

They incorporate stuff into browsers now that make them insecure and decrease their performance, but it’s all Cool and Stuff, and that’s OK for the tiny audience they only seem to care about. The only problem is, in the real world, we actually care more about security, reliability, performance, and accessibility than if the browser is all Cool and Stuff.

You have users wanting to be involved. You have experts from other fields asking, sometimes even begging, to be involved. You have other techs with vast experience—real world experience—wanting to be involved. Yet you throw it all away. And then you brag about it.