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Let's degrade gracefully
2010-07-07: The most important principle of the web, above everything else, was that information would be made available to everyone regardless of the device they used to access the Internet.
The idea is that the way someone uses the web is entirely up to them. If they want to use their computer, a mobile phone or a TV, that's cool. If they are blind and need websites to be automatically read to them, that's cool too. Some would say .. if we are going to build a new cyberworld, let's at least make that one accessible.
So .. if I wanted to use my first PC, an Amstrad PC 1640, I should be able to. Sure, that machine won't show me videos, but I should be able to read the descriptions of those videos. Using Lynx that should be possible.
There's a web design principle that says web pages should 'degrade gracefully'. In other words, a site should work on any browser. It may not look pretty, you may not get all the 'improved' functionality, but it should work.
Incidentally, I think the reason that 'degrading gracefully' isn't popular is that designers and users want the site to look right on all browsers. That's the danger with fancy designs, it won't (not without a herculean effort). Nor should it. What we're talking about is functionality. It should work. You should be able to achieve your task.
Anyway, what I'm actually using is a PC I built myself which is about four and a half years old. I still think of it as my new computer, and I've no desire to upgrade it.
A year or so ago my Fedora Linux system ceased to be supported. I wasn't expecting that. To deal with that would mean a day's work upgrading it and the risk of things not working thereafter .. like my Scarborough webcam. I don't really want to spend the time. More to the point, I don't want to be forced into spending the time by websites that don't degrade gracefully. That's a tax on my time.
YouTube, with all the resources at its disposal, has ceased to allow me, with my reasonable setup, to leave comments. It says there's an error. It also tells me every time I use it that my browser isn't supported.
That's a real problem.

By John Allsopp
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