samskivert: The terrorists have already won the browser wars

02 June 2004

I ask myself why it’s not trivially easy for me to share bookmarks between browsers on the same and different machines, why I can’t even share my remembered password database between various incarnations of Mozilla on the same machine, why my addressbook is a scattered mess of overlapping collections in any number of incompatible formats. How have these basic needs been going unmet for now well over a decade?

Is it because the many eyes of open source are focused on esoteric bullshit like platform independent, declarative, XML-based user interface specification languages and the ability to skin everything from my word processor down to the dock applet that displays the network traffic going in and out of my machine? Maybe if I used only Apple products, I could sync everything through .Mac, or if I set up a whole Microsoft Back Office environment I could have these problems handled in some deviously proprietary way. But what happens if I use a Windows PC and a Mac (let alone throwing Linux back into the mix)? I’m right back up shit creek.

Somehow, we passed so quickly from one-computer-many-users, through one-computer-one-user, to one-user-many-computers, that the fundamental problem of sharing data between working environments slipped through the cracks. Unfortunately, one person or company can’t just “solve” this problem and make millions selling the solution. Instead it requires the coordination of myriad adversarial entities that are about as likely to cooperate as the Israeli and the Palestinians.

I guess it’s time to break out the duct tape and baling wire.

©1999–2015 Michael Bayne