Cleaning the Other Side of the Browser

It’s a messy world.  The new generation of browsers are cleaning it up a bit; they are actively pairing down the amount of administrative chrome that surrounds the content.  And that’s great, because it makes half of the web better.

But it doesn’t make the web better, it only makes the browser better.  It’s still mostly the same web.

It’s the web with too many irrelevant advertisements.

Too many sites with clutter.

Too much bad typography.

Bad suggestion engines and search results.

So, accepting that each website is like a public toilet stall, with whatever has been scrawled on it, what happens if everyone is given a marker?

Some sites have tried that.

Readability tries to pare down any site to just the content.

There are also things like Greasemonkey and Stylish, allowing users to apply their own scripts and styles to pages.

But these things rely on the current version of sites.  They are subject to breakage, and the site owners want you to view it the way they say.

That’s an older problem.  Some religions wanted you to look at things their way, to the point where they controlled the availability of sacred texts or the ability to read them.   Kings used to have the power, but even when democracy took hold there were countless attempts to control who voted and ran for office.

It’s worth pondering though.  We need to clean the other side of the browser, from bad path design to clutter to typography.  Too much dictated design makes the web less useful, and it stifles the spread of information.


Open Voting Solution

Via a Slashdot story about evidence of voting machine errorsOpen Voting Consortium:

(1) a prototype of open-source software for voting machines (2) an electronic voting machine that prints a paper ballot, (3) a ballot verification station that scans the paper ballot and lets a voter hear the selections, and (4) stations with functions to aid visually impaired people so they can vote without assistance. Open source means that anyone can see how the machines are programmed and how they work.

Very cool stuff. You can even try a ballot via this web-based demonstration. The demonstration allows you to cast a fictional ballot and then generate a printable document. The document is approximately what you would get out of the real system if this were actually used.

This is the thread in the Slashdot article about Open Voting Consortium.

You can read the  comments on Slashdot that discuss the OVC.

A few points worth mentioning:

  1. The actual hardware can be cheap, commodity systems.
  2. The actual ballots are printed, submitted ballots that are readable by both computers and humans.
  3. Ballots that have not been submitted are of no risk to anyone.

The nice part about this is you don’t necessarily have to vote anywhere. You could vote on your cell phone, print it, and submit it. Some jurisdictions in the USA already allow (and encourage) voting by mail.

The goal of the new voting movements (some of which aren’t so new) are generally to increase turnout, simplify the process, increase integrity of the process, and enhance the results of voting. I’m all for it.