I recently had an interesting experience helping to upgrade a web site. AARP has a site that is used by its Tax consulting volunteers who answer income tax questions for its members and any one else. The volunteers using the site were running into some problems and it was decided by AARP to upgrade the site and test the result using a team of five volunteers. I had the good fortune of being one of those volunteers.
Now, I have to admit that, although I’ve used a computer since they first appeared on the scene, I remain a complete idiot when doing so. Oh, I can use a program like Word OK, play games on it and even create a web site like this one but I have no knowledge whatsoever about how a computer really works and how to use it properly. Being exposed to this testing process and its results was a real eye opener.
When we took part in a telephone conference to review the results of the test I discovered that our experiences varied considerably dependent on the browser we were using. The program that made the web site a means of asking and answering questions worked fine and did what it was supposed to but the individuals using it were having differing problems caused by their browsers. Internet Explorer (and even different versions of it), Fire Fox, MSN Explorer and Google Chrome were those being used and each could, in some instances bring about a different result or cause a glitch.
Why should that be? I can understand a free market and the effectiveness of competition but the use of the internet has become a necessity and having to cope with the means to do so varying in their methods is becoming a major problem. They all tout their services with emphasis on what they can do better than the next but eventually all seem to end up with the same general product. However, the delivery of that product can vary and that’s what causes the problem.
It seems to me that access to the internet should be standardized. Why should I be concerned with Fire Fox not supporting a program that I’ve bought to the degree it should while Google may work better? To my mind Internet business is Interstate business and should be regulated in the manner that the FCC regulates radio and TV. Let’s expand their responsibility or establish a separate FIC, Federal Internet Commission.