The Push for Progress

October 13, 2008 at 7:00 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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As television stations are constantly reminding us, as of February 17, 2009, all full-power stations in the U.S. will transition from analog to digital broadcast. (For more details, see the Federal Communications Commission site.) Many people have wondered why the government got involved and mandated this transition. What’s it to them if I like my rabbit ears? One reason is that this move will free up bands for use by emergency services, according to another government site. Others say that it’s simply a good idea to push forward with the newest and best technology so we don’t get left behind other countries. Regardless of the reasons, the result is that those who don’t currently have the set-up required to receive digital television broadcasts must take steps to prepare before February or find other ways to occupy their time. Hmm, maybe this is an opportunity for the American Council on Exercise!

 

Bye-bye, rabbit ears!

Bye-bye, rabbit ears!

 

 

 

The push for progress affects most areas of our lives. For example, do you know someone who doesn’t have a cell phone? Or have you left your cell phone at home lately and then been quizzed by someone who tried to get in touch with you? Have you tried to sign up for something without giving an email address? Or how about the Internet – if you don’t have high-speed access, how many sites are more frustrating to load than they are worth?

 

Many Web site designers follow the “graceful degradation” rule, offering full capabilities to only those with the latest browsers, newest plug-ins, and fastest connections. This either pushes visitors to upgrade (if they can) or drives them away. A better approach is the progressive enhancement rule, discussed in an excellent article by Aaron Gustafson. (His analogies are great, but if you have a sweet tooth, they’re going to stir up your cravings. Have a bag of Peanut M&Ms ready.) The concept of progressive enhancement mandates full content availability to all comers, with an enhanced experience available to visitors who are equipped with all the latest technologies. Isn’t that a fresh perspective?

 

It shouldn’t seem so revolutionary to build a Web site that almost everybody can fully access, but if you’ve tried to surf the Web with Netscape lately, you’ll agree that progressive enhancement’s time has come.

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