Day 6 Thoughts

From Cyberlaw: Difficult Issues Winter 2010
Revision as of 18:01, 13 January 2010 by Rnagarajan (talk | contribs)
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Quickie thought: how effective can Firefox plugins really be for many projects - especially those that require a large non-geek percentage? And what if IE were to allow easy compatibility with plugins? Consider the following back of the envelope calculations:

-25% of Internet users use Firefox. Estimates are that this is about 270 million users.

-The latest statistics from Mozilla show that there are about 200 million add-ons in use total. But that's clearly not evenly distributed. I can't find the number, so let's wildly ballpark it and say that the average add-on user is using four add-ons (the Stanford computer in Room 280B is clearly using way more...), which means there are 50 million people that really use add-ons.

That means that if we take the roughly billion people who are estimated to be on the Net (based on the marketshare above of Firefox), about 5% even have the capacity to change their user experience with a Firefox extension.

I don't know what the implications of this are - anyone else have a deep thought? - but I think it's worth remembering that those who desire to change their Internet experiences this way are a small minority of users. If IE decided to open up to extensions, though - and if there was some way to translate existing Firefox extensions over to that platform - we might have a whole new ballgame... Jharrow 23:28, 12 January 2010 (UTC)

Reuben: While we certainly demonstrated the utility of crowdsourcing and plug-ins in our discussion, Jason is correct in reminding us that we shouldn't lose the forest for the trees. Both crowdsourcing and plug-ins have their weaknesses, either the need for a critical mass of participation, the need for high quality participation (the kind that can't be bought from Mechanical Turk), or simple browser compatability. Without some larger education campaign or publicity, it's hard to imagine these plug-ins making significant impacts on many users. The majority will likely stick to plain vanilla internet and the cybersecurity problem, ubicomp problems, etc. will all still be out there for them. ReubRodriguez 00:54, 13 January 2010 (UTC)
Yeah, this is clearly an issue with all emerging internet technologies. 2/3s of people still use IE today. But it seems like innovation has been driven by the small group of elite users throughout the history of the internet (that's probably the case for other technologies). The cycle of plug-in to inclusion in Firefox to inclusion in IE probably could happen in a year or two, if the plug-in was really great. Rnagarajan 23:01, 13 January 2010 (UTC)