Mossberg forgets about 600 million people

Walter MossbergOne of the most influential technology writers according to Wikipedia, Walter Mossberg, has forgotten about the majority 55% of the world’s internet users.

In an article giving a brief overview of the recently released Internet Explorer 7, Mr. Mossberg labeled IE7 as “Not Much Is New”. As much as I respect his success, but that is extremely selfish of himself to say that. Why? Because he assumes everyone in the world has used either Firefox or another web browser.

Not much is new. Except to the 600 or so million people in the world which make up at least 55% of the world’s population browsing the internet using Internet Explorer 6. Tabbing, integrated search, security and anti-phishing are features I’d never expect anyone at a bus-spot to know about let alone used before.

Digital disabilityIt might not be new to me, users who reads this blog or anyone else reading blogs in general. But it is new to the hundreds millions of people out there, and it shouldn’t be labeled as “not new” just because the writer of the article thinks differently. There is a clear digital divide amongst society today between those who get technology and those who don’t. As technology writers continue to separate themselves from the average consumers, the digital divide widens.

At this rate, one day, ineffective use of technology might be considered a disability.

Disclaimer: I use and support both Internet Explorer 7 and Firefox 2.0. Firefox on the desktop, and IE on the laptop with better mobile/tablet support.

13 insightful thoughts

  1. That’s a dumb title… “forgets about 600 million people”. Well, if you take it that way, you are forgetting at least a billion people who aren’t even online. Are you so selfish as to publish an article that doesn’t even mention them? And what about all the farmers in Guatemala? Are you saying some of them are disabled even though they’re not? What about Bob? There’s a good essay question for you: should we always write about everyone on the planet/universe, or should we focus on the subject of what we are writing about? Hmm… Let me think…

    Well, I’d say you were just a bit pissed about someone saying something you didn’t like about IE7. But hey, the guy is free to say what he thinks. Hell, I agree with him… Nothing really is new in IE7. There are new things compared to IE6 yes, and there are new things compared to IE3 also… And the earth is billions of years old, does IE7 even matter from that perspective? And there are billions of stars/galaxies/grains of sand out there and…

    PS: The 7th word of this article is “writes”, where it should probably be “writers” (missing an ‘r’), and I know that ‘r’ doesn’t matter to the 600 million people that were forgotten here

  2. Hey, I was a bit harsh and dumb too :) I just want to add that I love to read your blog usually. This one ticked me a wee little bit, don’t take my comment the wrong way:). You’re doing a great job man, keep up the good work!

  3. He didn’t forget about them or those features. He’s just pointing out those 600 million people are missing out on new features, even though they may be getting “new-to-them” features. A low end car may have new features relative to the past models, but typically they do not sport “new-to-world” features. As an example, the Dodge Neon originally omitted power windows, but I bet they have them today. When they added the power windows, buyers of previous models would find power windows as new. The Neon did not have features like radar-based cruise control that were newly made available to the public.

  4. @John: 600 million people is the number of people who have not experienced tabbing, integrated search or anti-phishing. To them, this is a great way to get introduced to them, because this is a recommended upgrade by a monopoly, and that means common features.

    Comparing it to the global population of the world is unfounded and unnecessary. I’m not saying Mossberg should write to the world, but at least those who use Internet Explorer.

    There’s plenty of bad press about IE7, I don’t care. I have no stocks in Microsoft. The worse they design, the more jobs I have as a designer.

    @schalliol: I kind of agree with you. Just because it isn’t a new concept, doesn’t mean its not new.

  5. Is all of this any surprise at all? Mossberg never has anything good to say about Microsoft because his nose is planted in the rear end of Steve Jobs. I’m not saying that Jobs doesn’t deserve the praise, but this guy is Rush Limbaugh to and Apple is the Republican party.

    That’s probably the first time that Apple has ever been compared to the Republican party. I claim copyright.

  6. I think a lot of IE7 is really new….in fact, I think they overhauled the interface TOO much for the average user.

    It’s nice for tech-savvy people who can do this and that w/ relative ease…but for people like my sister and my parents, who AREN’T computer literate, all IE7 will do is confuse them.

    You’re right in saying to most people IE7 WILL be new…but also to MOST people they will see no reason to upgrade either, unless forced (by having it included w/ Vista or on new XP machines).

  7. I too experience Digital Divide… I work as an editor/contributor for nationwide tech magazine, and it is increasingly difficult for me to take needs and interests of non-geeks (or, tech-not-so-savvy, I am no real geek myself) into account. I like IE7, I will test it against my parents and friends. I have a Mac friend, who had great difficulty finding his way around Office 07, although I thought there can’t be any easier interface. But as I have difficulties navigating through OS X, it all trickles down to user habits.

  8. Consider Mossberg’s employer, the Wall Street Journal, the same company that employs Peggy Noonan and thinks the economy is great! Oy. I’ve never respected the man’s opinion. Like every other newspaper tech writer (who can’t defend his opinions in a blog), he fawns over everything iPod.

  9. If you want a good review on IE 7 take a look at Paul Thurrot’s review. I personally really like IE 7. I think the interface is nicer than IE 6 and Firefox; very stream lined and easy to navigate. Plus, all the new features are well implimented.

  10. I downloaded IE7 on a generic XP machine and was suprised at how long it took to download IE7 and how relatively slow it is compared to IE6. I thought it might be my generic, run of the mill computer but it was the same on significant other’s laptop; IE7 is noticably slower than IE6.

    Personally, while I may not agree with everying Mr. Mossberg wrote, his review was good, as are most of his columns, which I, unfortunately, read only infrequently.

  11. Walt Mossberg thinks IE7 is a disappointment. He also believes the Mobile PC misses the mark, Vista will just be acopy of the Mac, Office Live isn’t flexible, Palm makes better phone software… Starting to see a trend?

    Walt has all day long to play with features, but he actually does very little with them. He doesn’t have to build web based applications that will be accepted in industry, have a corporate sales database to synch on his phone, write software for others to use, send customers documents, or any other work that those of us in the real world do.

    This leaves him free to analyze toys based on wow factor, regardless of how they work together in the general market place.

    Reading the Wall Street Journal (which I subscribe to) for gadget advice is like reading the local papers ofr business news – superficial at best.

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