Taking Potshots at Taking Potshots at Flock

Hey, how come Om got to be the “potshots” guy and I was stuck with the “tiresome” label in this anti-anti-Flock missive? I generally think of myself as more of a potshots guy, and I’ll leave it to Om to decide if he’s tiresome:

So there’s been some more talk lately about Flock and extensions and relevancy and Performancing’s new blogging tool for Firefox. I’m all for it. The more we talk about open source, about Firefox, about Flock, about coming up with better, cooler, faster and more usable technology, the more we’re inclined to just go build it. And in doing so, make sure that it’s relevant and actually meets the needs of real people.

I have to admit though, the potshots at Flock are becoming a little tiresome.

Okay, near as I can tell from reading the lengthy piece from which this excerpt comes, the argument here seems to be a) that most people don’t install Firefox extensions, b) there is a need for a browser designed from the ground up for the read-write web, and c) Flock solves both problems.

Fair enough. And in a perfect world, that might happen. Darn it, I would like it to happen — I want a read-write app now for the read-write web, and IE ain’t it. My recent potshots [ed. Tiresomeness!] aside, I was one of the first in line to try Flock, and I’ll check out the next iteration when it appears. I want something better than I currently have, and while I doubt it will be Flock, I’m fine if it is. I’m agnostic about that sort of thing.

But I’m also wildly unrepresentative of the average user’s behavior. Repeat after me (again): People are lazy. Getting most people to change browsers isn’t quite as hard as getting them to transplant their eyes to change eye color, but it’s close.

Because listen: For most people in 2005 browsers are transparent. Heck, my Dad calls his browser Yahoo, and I doubt he’s anywhere near alone. As hard as it is to get people to install Firefox extensions, it’s even harder to get them to change browsers — especially when most people don’t even see their browser as a product about which they made a choice.

A huge caveat. There was a lot of stuff in the anti-anti-Flock note to which I’m responding about cars, cows, cell phones, duct tape, mecasting, omelettes, and crowds of people stomping down sidewalks, shades of Don Delillo. I point this out because there’s an excellent chance I’ve completely missed the point of the post to which I’m thinking I’m responding. Maybe it was actually about something else and I only thought it was about Flock, not to mention confusing Om and my scurrilousness.

[Update] Okay, some people seem to think I’ve changed my views here, at least a little. I haven’t. I still think Flock will fail, but my point is that it isn’t because it’s features aren’t useful, at least to me; it’s because the Flock folks are trying to change user behavior in a market where people don’t even know they have made a product adoption decision.


  1. i agree with u totally on –
    “people to change browsers isn’t quite as hard as getting them to transplant their eyes”
    If it wasn’t true then firefox would have had 80% marketshare already

  2. There is another argument that can be made. Not everyone blogs and uses del.icio.us, and without the social web aspects, Flock is not really that attractive. An extensible browser like firefox allows me to pick and choose how I work and also permits me to use it as a browser for work and personal use. I found it very hard to use Flock as flexibly as I do firefox (and I tried quite a bit).
    That said, I am sure there is room for Flock, just as there is for Opera.

  3. Dean Fragnito says:

    I was at a client-partners facility recently. They are a fairly large e-commerce portal. I was watching their customer support managers do her work. She was using IE and had about 5 windows open at the same time switching between them. I thought tab browsing would make her more efficient. So I suggested that she give a different web browser called firebox a try.
    She said “What’s a web browser”.
    I should of stopped right then but I had to see what her reaction would be. I told her that she uses a web browser everyday called, Internet Explorer IE for short.
    “Oh I don’t know anything about that”. She said
    “I really don’t give a shit about that stuff. I just want to do my job”
    I proceeded to install firefox for her and loaded all her web interfaces up in tabs. She freaked out.
    “What’s that
    ” Were is this”
    “What did you do”
    “Put it back”
    She said “thank you for trying to help”
    “You stupid idiot don’t mess with me like that again”

  4. Very nice of you, Paul, to try to think of nice things to say about Flock. But your efforts fall flat, because there is absolutely no need for a Flock browser. It’s, to put it politely, a “Flock’d” idea. Given that 99.999% of the world’s population doesn’t give a Flock about tags, blogs, etc., coming up with a browser for the 2% of Silicon Valleyites who do is…a Flock’d up idea if I ever heard one.

  5. Thanks Matt. I’m just a decent and helpful guy at heart!
    More seriously, I’m with you (and the skeptics) on this one.

  6. pk, you were spot on in y our critique of flock. don’t stop making risky statements, the blogosphere is turning in its own way into a new consensusThink, we need independent commentary.

  7. Yeah, people seem to think that I newly feel differently than I do about Flock. I still think it will flop. I just wanted to point out that I’d happily have its features, but they’ll never convince enough others to do the same thing that it will ever be a business.

  8. you’re both potsomes and tireshots…

  9. Thanks Kevin. I feel much better now.

  10. I think when you analyse the flock’n, he was saying yours was a potshot; I read it as both were potshots and that the potshots were getting tiresome. In fact it is possible just one potshot would not have been tiresome so I wouldnt worry about being referred to as tiresome, although obviously linking to your domain with that semantic signifier is some type of explicit subconscious freudian 2.0 pagerank gesture…