This is the first column that I am addressing to you, but our first encounter could hardly be more poignant, for together we mourn a departure that counts as one of the great farewells of our collective human memory: Adam and Eve expelled from the Garden of Eden; Orpheus who nevertheless had to leave his beloved Eurydice behind in Hades after unprecedented adventures; the separation of North and South Korea! No, I am not exaggerating when I say: The end of Internet Explorer is not last in this list. Let me, with sympathy and compassion, express this in certainly insufficient but hopefully apt words.
Exploro (Latin): I explore, I discover, I investigate! Truly an entire generation, and indeed in principle the entire human race, has discovered, recognised, explored the new, unknown, the challenging, sometimes also sobering, but always growing depths and shallows of the World Wide Web thanks to this gem. Sure, there were other browsers before. But who was Mosaic, who was Netscape? Yes, they may have been the first web exploration programmes. At the same time, Prometheus didn't invent fire, but he brought it to the people! Likewise, Explorer brought the Internet to earthlings. Don't you – our older readers – remember your first attempts at walking in the new, digital sphere? Who showed you the way? Who led you safely in and back again? It brings back many memories: the neo-intellectual flair of Internet cafés, awkward attempts at courtship in the emerging chat rooms by a hormone-ridden teenager, first online chess games against people from all over the world, my first colonoscopy. Many of these formative experiences that I – and surely many of you, dear readers – have had are denied to future members of the human species.
It brings back many memories: the neo-intellectual flair of internet cafés, awkward attempts at courtship in the emerging chat rooms by a hormone-ridden teenager, first online chess games against people from all over the world, my first colonoscopy.
But now the pioneering generation of the web is to be uprooted. Our constant companion is being abolished, erased, in current vernacular: cancelled. What remains are the flashing and blinking playgrounds of the so-called digital natives, high-performing, fancy-swiping high-order-security bastions with infinite options of personalisation – even more than enough for one's own actual personality. The I-experience is the focus: my own, very personal browser that no one else has. Not like Explorer, which is one for all who are already perfect – just like it is, the one before whom all are equal. Explorer had a proud market share of 99% in the year before the turn of the millennium. How wonderfully united was the world, close to the dream of peace, equality and fraternity! It has now been destroyed by a radical split of almost religious scope: "Tell me, how do you feel about your browsers?” Incompatible is the one who doesn't surf with the same software. It is thanks to the laziness and inadequacy of countless developers who refused to adapt their sites to IE – despite all the warnings – that the Internet has degenerated into the browser anarchy we are subjected to today. In the process, the Internet set out to break down walls, not to raise new ones.
This inevitably brings us to the quiet merits of the titan of the browser guild. After all, Internet Explorer indulges us with the most important commodity of all: time. In meritocracy, every second is worth money. We have to produce things, optimise ourselves, create value, learn Chinese. STOP! Take a deep breath. Slow down. It’s not the fastest browser that wins, but the one that does me good. And this is what the flagship of all net cogs does better than all the others. So every now and then, in the hectic daily routine of journalism, I like to take the time to look over the shoulders of my colleagues, who are thoroughly appreciated in other fields, while they are surfing. Based on long and close observations, I can say with certainty that they spend what feels like half of their time installing weekly updates, which inevitably takes up a few minutes of their productivity. Productivity needs good tools. A tool is best when it is quickly available, for example on a toolbar. But this is too commonplace for the fancy, new-fangled Internet excursion luxury liners. Whether it was the AOL toolbar, Bing or Yahoo, Explorer brought all the tools to centre stage. My browser is equipped with so many toolbars that I hardly need to visit websites to keep up with current events.
This inevitably brings us to the quiet merits of the titan of the browser guild. After all, Internet Explorer indulges us with the most important commodity of all: time.
This is unthinkable in the competitor programmes, which are characterised by spartan clarity and must also constantly reinvent themselves. More versatile than Madonna in her heyday, they constantly offer us one update after the next, constantly holding up a mirror: ""When was the last time you actually took a new development step? When did you learn significant new skills? Won't you finally adapt to my new performance abilities?!" Explorer does not show off, does not pose and does not brag. It remains completely satisfied with itself for a long time. It is the constant. For me. For the Gagarin generation of the Internet. Soon it will be over. As an apparent consolation, there is a successor from the same company. But it may seem like a mockery, as the name of the surrogate already sounds like an insult from the schoolyard bully who just stole your lunch money.
On 15 June 2022, I will wear black and quietly say "Farewell and thank you!"
Strigalt von Entf
*Our "Feuill-IT-ong" format is created in collaboration with the two freelance writers Tobias Lauterbach und Daniel Al-Kabbani who occasionally contribute to the satire platform "Der Postillon". Under the pseudonym Strigalt von Entf, they report on current events from the world of technology – always with a wink! ;-)