Scoble Questions WASP, Opera

Via Dave Winer: Robert Scoble brings up some interesting points in a post about the new Opera/WASP campaign called the Acid2 test. The test is being proposed as a way to get all browser makers supporting the same standards by having them test their browser against a full-featured web page that contains elements and styling […]

Via Dave Winer: Robert Scoble brings up some interesting points in a post about the new Opera/WASP campaign called the Acid2 test. The test is being proposed as a way to get all browser makers supporting the same standards by having them test their browser against a full-featured web page that contains elements and styling that aren’t supported consistently at the present time.

Scoble, a Microsoft employee, is somewhat upset with WASP for not letting him in on the party beforehand. And given his status as the Microsoft liason of late and his influence around the blogosphere, it does seem odd that nobody talked to him first. He seems to really want to help, and he’s got the ear of the right people in Redmond. That said, the WASP seems like a rather mysterious group.

Another thing: this issue is one of those tough ones where a relatively large company has little incentive to do something other than “it’s the RIGHT thing to do” (it has not been shown what Microsoft would gain from this). I’ve long been frustrated by these sorts of things, and I wonder if publicly challenging them might not be the best thing to do. This reminds me of a recent spat between Joe Clark and Anil Dash about the accessibility of the Movable Type interface. Joe was calling “bullshit” on Six Apart because he had been after them for 6 months to comply with certain accessibility standards, and they hadn’t done what he asked.

I know that sometimes it does help to get the crowd involved, the “media” if you will, but I usually find that there is a disconnect between what the company sees as valuable and what the requesting party sees as valuable. It will be interesting to see if Microsoft is “encouraged” by the ACID2 test.

So I wonder: what is the incentive for Microsoft to change their CSS 2 support? Is the only incentive because WASP wants them to? Or because they don’t want to look bad to developers? Or because WASP wants the media to get involved (as is already happening on Cnet) and then Microsoft would look bad to a lot more people? Also, where is the user in all this? Are they going to see any benefits?

Another tactic might be to directly link what Microsoft really wants (to keep/increase their marketshare) with what goals WASP is selling (standards compliancy). The question is, though, does standards compliancy lead to marketshare? Well, what does the success of Firefox tell us? Was Firefox’s marketshare gain only a security issue, a developer tools issue, or a standards-compliancy issue?

Published: March 17th, 2005

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