Friday, February 23, 2007

Why People Wear Suits

Blog Maverick Mark Cuban has hit a nerve with his post "Why I Don't Wear a Suit and Can't Figure Out Why Anyone Does!" I know I couldn't help but respond but I was shocked to see that I was comment number 328... So I thought I'd post my comment here as well:

A few years ago, after the dot com bubble burst, I was in New York City and someone there said to me "I hear that people are wearing suits in Silicon Valley again." He said it in a very smug superior way, as if this was proof that some deviant culture (Internet, Silicon Valley, tech folks, etc) had been entirely wiped out by the civilized world. So I think you are dead-on that wearing a suit has become, for some of those that wear them, a symbol of superiority.

But there is another simpler explanation -- inertia. Suit wearing evolved in an age when most people had to do hard physical labor that would destroy nice clothes -- so people that wore them were saying "I don't have to do hard physical labor." Clothes as an indicator of class. Over time, suits became the uniform for office workers and as these ranks grew, the reason changed from the initial objective of differentiation to one of assimilation.

What is interesting is that in whatever culture you visit, people tend to dress alike -- Its what the anthrophologist Victor Turner calls liminality. Human beings want to be included. There is safety in being part of the pack. So we dress alike (speak alike, eat alike...) in order to show that we belong and are not dangerous outsiders.

I bet your employees dress like you.

Internet Explorer Losing Ground?

As someone who has struggled to make web pages look beautiful on Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari, I found this story on ars technica hard to avoid reading... "Internet Explorer loses ground to Firefox, Safari... but "the rest of the story" as Paul Harvey liked to say is that there are conflicting numbers from a variety of tracking efforts and so no one really knows...

Suffice to say that Microsoft's Internet Explorer is still somewhere around 80% of the market for browsers. The introduction of IE 7 hasn't helped them, but they are still the dominant player.

But in a related note on the ars technica site there is data that shows that Firefox isn't growing either. So who is gaining marketshare? Safari.

How could that be? The only people that use Safari are Macintosh users. Could this be an early indication that Apple is finally gaining marketshare? And how long before these users abandon Safari -- I like to complain about Internet Explorer but Safari's support for W3 standards is even more abysmal.

On a related note, I have some advice for people trying to decide which browser to support when working on their web site compatibility tests. Don't forget to test Firefox on Mac. Just testing Firefox on Windows isn't sufficient. And while the total number of users of Firefox on Mac OS X may be small - they are a very influential group. I just met with a company yesterday that has a very popular website and they have done NO testing on Firefox for Mac OS X. How can that be, I asked? And I showed them a very nasty bug that they have in their product -- just on that platform... They thought they were done when the tested on Windows. Don't get caught in the same trap!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Twitter: An interesting experiment

I have been playing with a new web service called "twitter" today --

The interesting (obvious?) idea behind this service is that people want to blather about what they are doing all through the day and that other people want to know... So you can create a stream of your comments, thoughts, or reports on your activities and this creates a stream. Here is mine:

Then other people can subscribe to your stream and get reports on what you are up to... you can even "nudge" other people who haven't updated and find out what they are up to