The results of a new survey on browser usage are making the rounds and creating quite a stir. Apparently, those using Internet Explorer are dumber than those using Google’s Chrome and Mozilla’s Firefox. I think Opera users are now collecting Mensa cards.
The study apparently collected IQ ratings for a sampling of various web browser users and reached these startling conclusions. One must assume that those conducting the survey were all using a combination of Opera and a home-grown web browser, which makes them smarter than a combination of Einstein and Stephen Hawking.
Surveys like this make people like me angry because they appear to be designed solely to promote a particular point of view. Yes, the folks at AptiQuant found what they were looking for. Bully for them. Too bad they understand nothing about Web browsers and how and why people use them.
Now, I have noticed that champions of this browser or that have quickly leapt up on this side or that of the browser debate. Some feel vindicated: of course they’re smarter for using Firefox. Look at all those extensions. Chrome, with its 19%, is obviously for smart people. Anyone who gets their Web browser delivered with an operating system must be an idiot.
It’s all ridiculous.
Here’s the thing: Using this browser or that does not make you smarter. Doing things that are difficult or that require mental acuity, that makes you smarter. In the case of Web browsers, the best of them are those that make surfing the web easy, not harder. They take away confusion. Sure, some can allow you to see under the hood, customize, even use beta versions that are maybe not ready for prime time. But for average people good web browsers get out of the way.
Virtually all the Web browsers we use today strive to almost hide themselves from view. This does not engender confusion, it makes web browsing easier.
So, why would it be important for one browser or another to be for smart people? The best web browsers, and I count Internet Explorer, Chrome and Firefox among them (even Opera), are the ones that make Web browsing easy for people who do not know much about technology. Who were not first in their class. Who do not know how to code HTML and do not care. The best web browsers are the ones that anyone of any level of intelligence can master in a matter of minutes. I think Internet Explorer falls into that category. So does Chrome. Firefox? Well, it’s getting there.
It might also be argued that smart people use the easiest Web browsers, too. They appreciate a tool that makes using the Web easy by being almost transparent, so they can get back to doing the things smart people do.