Category Archives: Evolution of the WWW

Is Google AdSense really that bad, or are advertisers failing themselves?

From the Keep It Simple Stupid department….

Google’s contextual advertising doesn’t get a lot of love from anyone; publishers or advertisers. Publishers slam the low revenues and advertisers are disappointed with the high-cost, low-return they seem to get when choosing to advertise on the content network.

Having spent years managing campaigns through Google’s AdWords program (the advertising platform that supplies ads to contextual service, AdSense) I’ve experienced advertiser’s frustration over the content network. Indeed, one of the first things I did when creating or optimising campaigns would be to turn off the content network, ensuring that my client’s ads only ever appeared on Google search results.

This was the thinking;

Chart showing more wastage from the content network than search
Chart showing more wastage from the content network than search

About two years ago I re-visited the content network and figured that actually, it’s not that bad at all. You can target very effectively. I began taking a more traditional approach to online marketing. I researched the target market and found the sites that my target market was frequenting. Then, I pumped those sites into AdWords and it told me if they ran AdSense as well as some similar sites that definitely did. I could then easily create a campaign targeting only those sites that I’d identified. The situation then looked very different;

Chart showing more wastage from search content network
Chart showing more wastage from search than content network

It’s a very crued way of demonstrating the point, I know. What it does make you think about as well is the amount of wastage you get from search. I’ve always had great difficulty dealing with ‘keywords’ because it’s impossible to know what searchers are thinking when they type them in. Let’s take the common example of ‘mp3 players’. Is someone searching for ‘mp3 players’;

  1. Looking to buy an MP3 player?
  2. Researching MP3 players with the intention to buy at a later date?
  3. Trying to figure out what an MP3 player is?
  4. Looking for a supplier of MP3 players?
  5. Searching for a local shop selling MP3 players?
  6. Attempting to find software that will play MP3s?
  7. Researching in-car MP3 players?

I could go on… Imagine you are selling portable MP3 players by Sony. You find an MP3 player review site, add that to a Google AdWords campaign and target keywords including Sony. Your ad will only display on Sony MP3 player reviews. The great thing about that is you are catching your target market right at the point where they are trying to make a purchase decision. If they’re happy with the review there’s a good chance they’ll want to buy that MP3 player and conveniently, your (hopefully well-written) ad is sitting right along side.

I liken it to being able to cherry pick people off the street to pull into your high street shop. It really can be that powerful. So is it really the case that Google’s contextual targeting is flawed? Or is it just that advertiser’s aren’t taking full advantage of the system?

Well, it’s a bit of both. Google’s system needs to be smarter – showing ads for hotels in Lichfield isn’t very relevant on a site who’s target market all live in Lichfield. Google is also just doing what it can with the ads it’s been given though. Advertiser’s need to get smarter, too, and realise that this power is at their fingertips if they only look. Having said that when Google updated the AdWords interface a while back they manage to bury all the features I’ve just told you about. It took me ages to actually find them again!

Google make a big song and dance about how quickly and easily you can be up and running with AdWords. It’s true, anyone can do it in less than half an hour. It’s rarely successful though and to make a success of AdWords you need to really know your stuff, to the point that you can pass their certified professionals exam.

So what’s the solution? Pay a pay-per-click agency thousands to do it for you? Spend hours learning AdWords inside out? Well, yes ….and no. Why not KISS?

When we put AdSense on The Lichfield Blog we weren’t surprised that it didn’t generate a lot of revenue. After something like 3 months we switched to the much simpler and easier Addiply system. In the first month we had secured £42.50 of advertising revenue, beating those 3 months with AdSense by miles. It took some phoning around and it’s by no means a living but it pays some costs and considering it’s very much a ‘suck it and see’ effort, it’s gone very well.

There’s still some ground to be covered… Addiply is simple and easy to use, AdSense is feature rich and powerful once you know what you’re doing. There’s a middle-ground somewhere and in this period where local media is looking for ways to make the web pay, that middle ground is going to make publishers and advertisers everywhere very happy… as well as a small pot of gold for the person who gets to that middle ground first!

Hat-tip to Rick who prompted this post after finding Jeff Jarvis’ mood swing ads.

Bob’s got Brownhills covered

I was delighted a few weeks ago to find out about Brownhills Bob’s Brownhills Blog. Quite the twongue tister. So delighted that I decided to interview Bob. It’s taken me a while but I’m finally blogging it…

Having been heavily involved in The Lichfield Blog for quite a while and generally being quite interested in the development of the hyperlocal scene, I was curious to know why Bob started the blog. I wasn’t surprised at the answer;

“It was an experiment, really; I wasn’t expecting to feel as comfortable with it as I do, and I thought it would probably wither on the vine before a timely, lonely death by apathy.”

It’s great to see JFDI is rearing is beautifully straight forward head yet again.

Bob, who wants to be anonymous, has been living in Brownhills since he was five. Now in his forties he can recall living in a rented house at one end of the town before moving across town to a council property at the other. He loves “it’s idiosyncrasies and contradictions” and says “It’s a town in the West Midlands that thinks it’s still in Staffordshire; it behaves like an urban town, but is really a relatively small, semi-rural dormitory on the very edge of the conurbation. It’s post industrial, post retail and, quite honestly, post mortem.”

That’s when I got a feel for the real reason behind the blog. Bob loves Brownhills but you get the sense that he is concerned for it’s future. It’s still got it’s character but for how long. He continued;

“The place is nearly, very nearly dead and that’s a crying shame. We’ve got generally excellent public transport, a handful of superstores, choked roads and loads of recent-build pattern estate housing. We’ve hosted the now demolished fifth most deprived council estate in Britain, and had some of the grimmest, most poorly engineered highrise flats the 60’s could throw up. The town was built on furnace, foundry, canal, coalmine and rail, and now has only one of it’s major manufacturing businesses still extant. We’ve got a 30 foot statue of a coalminer that few wanted yet everyone now loves, beautiful commons and waterways, and one of the most important sites for birdlife in the Midlands. You can walk for five minutes from anywhere in Brownhills and find yourself in open, rolling countryside. Badgers wander round my neighbourhood at night, eating bedding plants, bullying cats and shagging noisily. It’s a weird place. You get red deer on the main traffic island at the Rising Sun…”

It’s clear that Bob is yet another resident who feels like his neighbourhood is falling foul of the local political elite. He is detached from the very people that are supposedly carrying out his will. Enter the internet which has given Bob the outlet he, and others, needed.

“That’s what’s behind BrownhillsBob. Our town – like many others – has a thoroughly useless system of governance, consisting of LNP’s, committees, pressure groups, a couple of really scary single issue fanatics and self-interested politicos. This has led to some really poor decision making on high, and consequently we’ve had some really nonsensical things happen. Most of our social housing has been demolished, and we have nothing to replace it – for 5 years, great swathes of the town have been wastelands, housing nothing but weeds. The once thriving market has been run into the ground and 50% of our retail space is empty and unloved. I’m not a political animal, can’t stand meetings and would be crap at representing people on a council, so I looked for other outlets for my feelings of irritation and abject amazement at the state of the place I call home.”

Bob took an interesting route, actually. He started out with photos…

“After some unsatisfying experiments with the web, samizdat and other sub-culture stuff, including graffiti, I discovered Google Earth. What a revelation that was…

“Google Earth, as I’m sure you’re aware, has a community layer, by default it’s visible and overlays user generated place marks over the satellite imagery. These manifest themselves as little blue ‘I’ symbols, which when clicked, open a comment. This was really engaging – I quickly set up an anonymous user account in the name of BrownhillsBob and issued a slew of place marks on an unsuspecting Brownhills… I think probably about 12 or so. I immediately got slapped by a moderator, but within a couple of months, all but one place mark appeared, and they’re still there today. Proto-Bob.

“Then came Panoramio.

“Panoramio is the same thing with photos – when I signed up as BrownhillsBob in 2007 it had less than a million users, and most were dormant test accounts. I discovered that you could upload photos, they got manually reviewed for acceptable content, and hopefully appeared as a blue dot on the map a month or so later. Being a committed geek, I got to work and photographed loads of stuff in the town that energised me, and rooted out some pictures I’d taken of the town at it’s best, to give light and shade. Within a year I had 100-odd photos scattered over the town and south Staffordshire, with increasingly bizarre labels and each with a comment attached – sometimes angry, sometimes humorous, most often banal. I never lose sight of the fact that I’m not very good at this…

“Two years later, there are nearly 600 photos from Brownhills to Staffordshire, Leicestershire, Derbyshire, Shropshire and of course, my beloved Brownhills. They’re generally scenic, sometimes ugly, sometimes just documentary. They still have odd names (it attracts the curious, but the title is always relevant if oblique) and mostly have some explanatory comment – sometimes with a long conversation developing between viewers. BrownhillsBob had engendered a response, and I was surprised and encouraged. I got quite a bit of mail that said I was an idiot for painting the town in a bad light, but I got plenty of interesting responses, too. Check the gallery out. The oldest picture, and most popular, is an odd little winter sunset I took at Stowe Pool in Lichfield.

“The best thing about Panoramio for me is that if you look at Brownhills in GE now, my photos have encouraged others to open accounts and post theirs, too; Brownhills is now peppered with blue dots to an extent not generally seen outside tourist spots. I regard that as an achievement – I certainly encouraged users like Howmuch, Facade66, 7rin, Brownhills Champ and Woodbeast. Not directly, but they clearly saw my work as a challenge. Dawntreader recorded an early morning trespass walk along the disused railway between  Brownhills and Lichfield. People were looking at the town, their pictures of it and showing what interested them.

“Panoramio has been a huge success, with 22 million photos worldwide and 8,000,000 users. I wish I’d had that idea…

“Writing little potted comments for each photo got tedious. Getting an engagement had encouraged me – I’d been aware of blogging for years, but tired of the people who recorded their every dump as if it were breaking news; that put me off for ages. I fiddled with Blogspot, Blogger and then… Found WordPress. A local councillor to whose blog I subscribed used it, and I enjoyed the ability to comment on his ramblings. I decided to have a go. I didn’t know if it would work, whether I’d be interesting or if anyone would notice. 4 weeks later and here I am… The postings enable me to wrap up bunches of Panoramio photos together with a more fulsome explanation. They allow me to indulge myself by rambling at some length about things that interest me.”

It’s hard not to notice the passion that Bob has for Brownhills and it’s yet another example where normal folks who are passionate about where they live have turned to the internet to give themselves a feeling of belonging and connectedness with their home. It’s clearly not coming from anywhere else.

Not just that, he’s also a person who you can relate to. Apparently, us people have this thing we call a “non-person” in our subconscious – people like waiters/waitresses, couriers, supermarket till operators, politicians, and I think, web site owners. These are people we don’t know, have no connection with and don’t consider to have feelings and thoughts of their own beyond those of the institution they are associated to. Bob is an actually person with hobbies, interests and lateness.

“Local History, the environment, wildlife, countryside, the cold war and social geography engage me massively. My partner and friends would accuse me of being permanently late, creative, ranty and hyper. I’m observant and hate the way most people never look upwards, particularly in towns. There’s much going on above the first floor. I’m concerned that we haven’t, as a society, recorded much social history on a local level since the war.

“I know what it is to be a carer and feel for the suffering of the vulnerable. The Changing Lives farce in Staffordshire makes me very angry indeed, as does flytipping, bad driving, bad cycling, racism and the madness of crowds.”

I’m sure Brownhill’s Bob will be around for a while yet. He’s clearly enjoying himself and he’s formed a nice little community for himself.

“I don’t know what’s in the future for BrownhillsBob. He’s recently experimenting with Facebook and Twitter, but not very competent at either. He’s bemused by a lot of new media social networking web 2.0 shit.

“I’ve hopefully got articles coming up about the atrocious state of Brownhills’ one remaining towerblock, a lost peace garden in Walsall, Hoar Cross Church, a streaking incident in Brownhills in 1975 (genuine quote from one observer ‘My, he was well blessed…’) and some more stuff about the South Staffordshire Waterworks co. I’m toying with some ideas about an old doctor’s surgery in Brownhills (Combes House, in the 1920’s, long since gone), A lost isolation hospital near Barracks Lane and some history of St Matthews Asylum. I’m not sure how much of this will get done. I’ll continue to document Panoramio uploads and anything else that floats my boat, pisses me off or tickles my sense of the absurd. Spotting that terrapin at Chasewater was a godsend.”

I certainly hope he does stick around. This kind of grass-roots passion is the best kind in my opinion (and yes, I’m biased) and should be welcomed with open arms. I say that not just to you but to the politicians and the media because, afterall, they do seem to be the ones who play catch up most of the time.

My thanks to Bob for allowing me to ‘interview’ him and for waiting patiently. All the best for the future!

Visit Brownhills Bob’s Brownhill’s Blog on

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Spotify won’t be on the iPhone but neither will it ‘revolutise’. Unless…

…it gets cheaper.

I’m a massive Spotify fan. It’s like listening to commercial radio but without self-obsessed DJs tranting about their bowel movements and the same stream of adverts for double glazed windows. Plus, you make up the playlist. Listening to Spotify, unlike any radio station means I can listen to lots of different music, not the same drab playlist 5 times a day.

I can put up with the odd advert in exchange for having a massive collection of music at my fingertips without the need for a cargo container full of hard drives. It’s a damn good deal.

£9.99 to get rid of those adverts isn’t though. Think about it.

When my friend Nick told me he’d subscribed my immediate reaction was, why? For the same amount you could download about 30-40 tracks from eMusic (it’s not like hard drive space is expensive either – most PCs will have plenty of room for a few thousand tracks) and using services like Orb it’s easy to access that music anywhere – including on a mobile phone (like my beloved #JournoPhone).

Which brings me nicely onto the reason Spotify won’t ‘revolutionise’ the industry as many would have us believe. It’s too closed. You can access it on any PC or Mac that has it installed but not on your phone. Those with jail broken iPhones will be able to soon but the rest won’t – and it’ll be a long time before it gets to other phones, if at all.

You can’t easily transport your playlists either. I was at a friend’s house recently and wanted to find some songs off my playlists but the only way to do so was log into my account, open a text file and copy/paste the link to my playlists. Where’s the API? Where’s the web site where I can log in and view, edit, delete and generally screw with my playlists? Where’s the follow feature so I can see when my friends with similar taste create a new playlist or listen to one of mine?

Oh, there’s a C API. Brilliant! That means that all those thousands of C programmers out there can make….. more desktop apps. That’s…… good.

Dear Spotify, give us web dev types an API and we’ll give people more of a reason to actually pay £9.99 a month and then maybe you won’t be missing your revenue targets!

You know, I’m also starting to see a lot more tie-in with so maybe I should be directing my requests at CBS? Go on, guys, buy Spotify and add lots of social features to it. If you don’t I’m gonna go write a kick ass business plan and go find some trusting VCs…. then Spotify will be your competitor!

Okay, rant over. Thanks for listening.

Recognition for The Lichfield Blog just keeps on growing…

When I first got involved in The Lichfield Blog back in February this year I had no idea that six months later I’d be writing a business plan for a brand new social enterprise.

The Lichfield Blog banner up at Fuse Acoustic '09
The Lichfield Blog banner up at Fuse Acoustic '09

I never thought I’d be looking at stats showing an average of 11,000 visitors each month (equivalent to over 10% of Lichfield District’s population* and a third of the circulation of leading print weekly, the Lichfield Mercury). Nor did I imagine it would spur such cool things as Lichfield Social Media Cafe and Lichfield Social Media Surgeries (both still in planning). I would have laughed if you’d have told me I’d be live-streaming local artists at Lichfield’s Fuse Festival. A look of disbelief would accompany the thought of our MP, Mike Fabricant advertising on the site.

I knew we’d do lots of very cool things with it – as seems to be customary now my brain buzzed with ideas for exciting developments as soon as I saw it. I’m taken aback by the way things have played out though.

When I first started working freelance in November 2007 my aim was to be a leader in my industry. The heavy involvement in The Lichfield Blog and the recognition it’s seen has proven to me that I’m starting to achieve that.

That recognition has seen a massive boost over the past few weeks for two big reasons. The first is securing Michael Fabricant MP as an advertiser on the blog. He was our third advertiser and (we think) the first MP to advertise on a hyperlocal media site. Rick Waghorn of Addiply (the ad system we use) took the opportunity to shout about it that very afternoon at NewsInnovation London. I saw the tweets rolling in and I could barely contain my elation at having made such an impact.

Second reason, and the inspiration for this post, is that today Lichfield District Council have (after I sent them a cheeky tweet) changed their “Local Newspapers” section to “Local Media” and included The Lichfield Blog. They’re even syndicating us! I’m still undecided as to whether to check the other 353 local government district web sites to see if Lichfield is the only one to do so…

Both of these also come after what I consider to be a huge compliment from Birmingham Mail who recently started syndicating us along with our friends, Tamworth Blog and local blogger, Brownhill’s Bob. I call this traditional and new media meeting and getting along nicely – aka a sneak peak into the future of local media.

I know this is just the start though. All this has been achieved with the only expenditure being less than £100 and the time of a small team of dedicated and passionate volunteers (I say only, but it takes a lot of time). With the extra help and support we’re hoping to get as part of our future plans it’s obvious to me that The Lichfield Blog is going to move on leaps and bounds.

I can’t wait!

* based on data from the Office for National Statistics.

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But 37signals are just neglecting their customers

There’s been a bit of a spat between 37signals and Get Satisfaction today, after Mike Stanley took offence at Get Satisfaction’s efforts to get companies to take notice of their customers.

I really admire Get Satisfaction for the way it sort of shames companies who don’t provide good customer service.

I’ve never experienced 37signals’ customer support but plenty of people seem to think it’s top notch, so I can understand why the wording on Get Satisfaction would be hurtful to their reputation.

To their credit, Get Satisfaction have realised their mistake in how they word their site and responded well to Mike’s post.

However, I do think that 37signals are missing something.

In my last post I spoke about the open nature of the internet, that people will talk about companies on tools like Get Satisfaction and that any company hoping to maintain a good reputation needs to be monitoring these sites.

I also believe that the internet enables people to play by their own rules and that if companies are to provide the best customer service they should be prepared to do that in the customer’s preferred method.

Mike slammed Get Satisfaction’s approach saying,

 Their brand of “open” means “only on Get Satisfaction.”

Surely Mike is being hypocritical, though? If 37signals are committed to providing excellent customer service, shouldn’t they deliver that service via whatever means customers ask for it?

They already do that through Twitter, so why not Get Satisfaction?

Mike suggests that,

When customers see a “support site for 37signals” and an open text field, they’ll post their concerns and they’ll get pissed when they don’t hear back. I would be too!

That’s certainly not a good thing, but by not taking part in Get Satisfaction aren’t 37signals just neglecting those customers?

What do you think? Should 37signals use Get Satisfaction like they use Twitter or should Get Satisfaction be making sure that visitors to their site are well informed that 37signals has it’s own support area?

Update: I’ve added my thoughts to the comments of Mike’s original post. Do find on “Philip John” to see it. Maybe 37signals didn’t like my comment, ’cause it’s been deleted. I’ve commented again asking why. Let’s see if that one stays there.

The internet will make you accountable for your actions

I wouldn’t normally advocate reading The Sun, but as much as it pains me to do so I need to make a point.

A woman has apparently initiated divorce proceedings against her husband after spotting his car outside another woman’s house, on Google Street View.

“Top media laywer Mark Stephens” was quoted saying, “I suspect the husband’s lawyers will claim it was an invasion of privacy that will cost him his marriage and Range Rover.”

He may well lose his marriage and precious shagg wagon but it’s not Street View that’s brought that cost upon him, he’s done that all on his own.

And here, my patient readers, is where my point comes in.

The internet is an open and democratic medium. Get filmed, photographed or otherwise captured doing something you shouldn’t and you could well face the consequences.

It’s not the fault of the internet, of Google, of ISPs or of web site owners. It’s your fault.

Moaning about having your ‘privacy invaded’ because you got caught humping your cleaner thanks to the internet is akin to complaining that you got caught speeding because you happened to have been followed by an un-marked Police car.

The solution is quite simple: don’t do anything you wouldn’t want anyone knowing about. Especially cheating on your wife!

And guess what, the same applies (even more so, in fact) to companies.

On an almost daily basis my twitterstream contains tweets pertaining to bad customer service. I always worry for those companies. I wish, for their sake, that they’re monitoring Twitter, and the rest of the web.

If not, they are potentially letting their reputation sink lower and lower. As tools like Twitter, Facebook and Get Satisfaction gain traction, more and more people are making themselves heard. Word of mouth as a communication medium has rocketed to new heights.

So, if you’re a business do two things right now.

  1. Smarten up. Don’t do anything you wouldn’t mind the world knowing about.
  2. Keep an eye on what’s happening to your brand online. Failure to do so could result in a seriously damaged reputation.

Reasons to use Twitter: Real life user experience feedback

This is the first of (hopefully) many posts highlighting ways in which businesses can use Twitter. I’ll be trying to use examples whereever possible.

First: Real-life user experience feedback.

Frustration at Google AdSense led @tonypiper to tweet,

Adsense has got very confusing recently.

A great opportunity for the AdSense team at Google to get instant feedback on what people are finding difficult so that they can make some improvements.

There could be lots of people talking about your product or service not just on Twitter but throughout the web. Are you finding them and addressing their concerns? The impact on your reputation either way could be dramatic.

Citizen journalism: Friend or foe to traditional media?

Recently I’ve become involved in a relative new project, The Lichfield Blog. As you may gather from the name it’s a blog, about Lichfield.

I’m really proud to be part of something that has such a switched on and engaged little team behind it.

It was especially gratifying to watch as the story of a fire in one of Lichfield’s pubs quickly made it onto the blog just 3 hours after the initial call to the emergency services. Obviously we were lucky to have one of our team walk past at the right moment with a camera phone – a photo quickly made it’s way on to Twitter and a few tweets later the post was up.

The blog’s creator, Ross, made a call to the fire service about the incident and learned that no-one else had picked up on the story yet. It seemed we had beaten the local media. Having seen other, more high-profile, stories break on Twitter that doesn’t surprise me but it did make me think about all this “newspapers are dead” talk.

The blog has a few hundred visitors now, which is great, but it’s never going to kill the newspapers in Lichfield. I wouldn’t want it to either – there are plenty of people throughout the world, not just in Lichfield, who like to read a paper.

So the question isn’t, “are newspapers going to die?”, but rather “how can newspapers use citizen journalism?”

A good example is the Pancake Race in Lichfield. Nick Brickett has been providing photography for The Lichfield Blog, his first assignment being the traditional Shrove Tuesday Pancake Race. His photos of the event made their way onto the Express & Star web site (ironically, as I write this, said web site is down!)

This could be the way journalism is going. Another great example is Channel 4 News (who my Twitter followers will know full well I admire).

Their coverage of the Schiphol plane crash was very much driven by Twitter. I sat in front of Tweetdeck and watched it all unfold in front of my eyes, from them picking up the story, contacting an eye witness to putting a Twit on the lunch time news. It was a first for them and possibly for journalism in the UK.

Krishnan Guru-Murphy of Channel 4 News says that Twitter is “just another way of finding people and talking“.

I suspect some journalists will treat services like Twitter and citizen journalism in general as a threat rather than an asset. I’ve heard of publications shutting down because they just can’t sustain themselves for much longer (obviously the ‘crunch’ doesn’t help) but instead of shutting down, I believe they should adapt and grow with the times.

And let’s face it, it’s cheaper to do it online!

Do you think the internet is a threat to traditional media, or should traditional media adapt and embrace services like Twitter as sources for news?

I don’t want broadband, leave me alone!

There is a lot of buzz at the moment about broadband in Britain, mainly thanks to the Digital Britain report. I’m a firm believer in technology as a driver of innovation, entrepreneurship and job creation so I definitely see that as a good thing.

That said, I have a feeling it might be mis-directed. See, there’s this whole 2Mb broadband for every home thing being bounded around but as Ed Richards, head of Ofcom, said this week, not everyone actually wants broadband.

So why give it to them?

Instead of focusing resources on getting people who don’t want it to have broadband, why not spend that effort on enabling the innovative products and services that will make them want it?

Remember the early days of broadband? The days when local groups sprung up to come together to persuade BT to give them broadband? If people want broadband, they will demand it. Perhaps the Government should instead concentrate on making sure the infrastructure is there when they do.

Do you think Government could be focusing their efforts in a better direction? Do you believe they’re even doing enough?

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IE8: Saviour of the Semantic Web, or Usability Nightmare?

I’ve been pushing web standards for years, so the news that Microsoft‘s Internet Explorer 8 will support W3C guidelines by default is very welcome from where I’m sitting.

There is one problem, though. They’ve announced that sites including CNN, Facebook and MySpace won’t work correctly. Users of the browser will have to choose to view these sites in “Compatibility View”. That sounds painful. It smacks of the “cancel or allow” ‘safety‘ feature in Vista.

It’s great that Microsoft are finally supporting standards. It’s long overdue and it should give the many standards ignorant web developers in the world a good kick up the arse.

Can you hear the “but” coming?

BUT… what are users going to do when, after upgrading to IE8, their favourite sites stop working? Some won’t even know there are alternative browsers and will think it’s a problem with their PC. Cue lots of restarts, calls to broadband providers and flicking through the Yellow Pages.

Though admirable, could Microsoft’s harsh line just frustrate IE users and web developers? Could this move fuel more browser-switching?