Lessons from a Protest
We responded to Dave Winer's call for Microsoft-Free-Fridays in June of 2001 to protest Microsoft's SmartTags technology in future versions of Web browsers. The idea is simple -- we ask that you use Microsoft Internet Explorer anyday of the week, except on Fridays. We encouraged use of the alternate browsers by making our popular content viewable only via non-Microsoft browsers on Fridays. (see The Campaign against Microsoft SmartTags)
After two weeks of running this experiment, here's what I have learnt.
Civil Non-cooperation Works!
Mahatma Gandhi described his civil
non-cooperation movement as a way to make the wronging party "realize
the injustice he is engaged in." He went on to describe that a nation
or an army (a company), no matter how powerful, cannot rule upon millions
of citizens (customers) who are not cooperative. We have already heard rumors
of a softening
stance at Microsoft on SmartTags.
Update on June 29, 2001. Microsoft agrees to remove SmartTags!
So next time, you want to fight for justice, remember Gandhi.
A Blog As Good as What's Cool at Yahoo!
The only initial exposure our protest received was a link at Winer's Weblog, Scripting.com . It was picked up by many news networks, and boy, were we flooded with traffic. I'd compare the traffic surge to the best known methods of website promotion.
Bloggers make note -- your link is powerful. Use them with
Opera is Cool
I downloaded an alternative, non-Microsoft browser called Opera . The foot-print is small, the application is stable and I love the interface. I would rank it among the best pieces of software I have ever used.
People Do Use Multiple Browsers
I do not know if it was the result of curiosity, or a characteristic of the audience
is interested in Web issues, but 77% of the users who were denied access to the
content (on Fridays), immediately switched browsers and requested the same
I was Wrong About PDAs
"Who would want to surf the Web on their cell-phone?" I had always asked rhetorically. Surprisingly, the people who cared about this Microsoft-Free-Fridays thingy seemed to be using either PDAs or cell-phones to read the story -- over 50% of the traffic we got from Europe for this story came this way.
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