Over the past week I have been going through the process of redesigning many of my various websites and getting deeper into CSS, XML, and PHP. I made an incredulous discovery that indicates to me we are still in the stone age of economic systems and web development.
We have all this great new stuff like Web 2.0, quad core processors, AJAX, 1-terabyte hard drives, liquid cooling systems for processors, great wiki software and yet…we still have only 5 truly web safe fonts to choose from when designing a website. My wife told me this yesterday, I did not believe her at all…but we looked it up again and it is indeed true.
The five font families that are web safe for use with Microsoft and Apple’s browsers are:
How can this be it is the year 2007, we have guided ballistic missiles that could hit a goat on Mt. Everest, the Tesla roadster, hydrofoils, robots, Airwolf, we cracked the human genome, built the Panama Canal, we can make our own islands, and yet on a technological level have not evolved past FIVE FONTS!?!?
I find it utterly absurd, petty and ridiculous that the operating system/browser designers of the planet cannot get together for even five minutes and agree on a universal font system to be supported by even the major 5-10 internet browsers in use.
It is great for all of the graphic designers that there is more work for them to do, but it also must be a greater headache when designing then it need be. I wonder how many hours of work are lost or how many more are required to design a website, just because companies are so proprietary. Companies have become so set in doing things their way, so propriety “because they can” without adequate consideration for the direct and indirect costs/externalities they are imposing on their own customers.
Does being non-cooperative with other companies when developing standards within an industry/market in order to chase the almighty dollar and appease who ever happens to be the stock holders really make a better product for the end user/consumer? I think that it may depend on the market or product, but on a macro level this type of non-cooperation in the creation of industry standards can retard the development of economies significantly.
Think about the HD DVD vs Blue Ray DVD battle going on in the DVD & DVD player market right now. Haven’t we done this already? Does anybody remember VHS vs. Betamax? Have the companies no memory of the past at all? Or better yet do they think that consumers have no memory of the past? Actually it is pretty clear that they do. Companies are really gambling that their standard will win…but because of the perceived larger payoff of being able to set “the standard” and gain a slice of revenue from every DVD produced in the future! Yeah well what happens to the company that “loses” the standard war and the customers that have to get rid of their TVs/DVD players? What are the environmental effects of of conducting such standards wars in different industries? Do millions more TVs & DVD players end up making their way to landfills sooner and in greater volume then they would have if a industry standard had been reached?
What do you think? Is it ethical for companies to:
- Not serve their customer in the best way, when it is well within their means to do so?
- Slow technological progress through proprietary competition of standards and thus economic progress?
- Gamble with millions of dollars of their customer’s and stockholders money?
- Force customers to choose a product that may be useless in the future?
Sans the ethical implications of such business decisions like not standardizing fonts or other such industry standards, my general feeling is we still have a long way to go and that if it wasn’t all about money…the road wouldn’t have to be as long as it is.