Browser War and Peace

In his previous post Steve made some very good points about differences between profiling and excluding people, versus diversity and inclusion. To many of us, the idea of being open to diversity makes a lot of sense. When we consider a wider range of people, there may be a wider range of benefits and positive qualities available to us. How we put out judgments into practice is a slightly different story. We all have our stereotypes and profiles that we hold dear.

Before I start being critical of others, I will examine myself: Do I have stereotypes, do I profile people before I even know them? I do. Luckily, these stereotypes have nothing to do with race or religion, but like any other stereotype, I trust it to tell me something significant about a person. So here it is: I judge people by the type of web browser that they use. It goes something like this:

  • Chrome – Normal
  • Firefox – Still normal, but maybe a bit old-fashioned or geeky
  • Internet Explorer – Ignorant / Old / IT illiterate
  • Safari – Apple fanboy / Out of touch
  • Opera – Must be from a different planet

Now you have it. Are you Internet Explorer user? You have every right to be unhappy with me right now. In fact, I started questioning myself too. Does my personal opinion or few experiences really represent an accurate larger picture? For this question, we are in luck! We have data, rather “Big data,” that can tell us how these groups of different browser users are expected to perform at their jobs.

Of course it can be argued that job performance is not the only criteria by which people should be judged; and this true. However if we can see that there is a difference in this one area, it may be reasonable to assume that there are underlying personality differences between the groups (which will tell us that my stereotypes may not be entirely unfounded).

I extracted the data and ran the tallies. Deep in my heart, I wanted to open the final numbers and say to myself something like, “I knew it!”. I even prepared browser icons to put into a nice chart that will show these differences. When the numbers finally presented themselves, I realized that there will be no graph. No browser group was significantly statistically different from the population average in expected job performance. In other words, IE users are as good as their Chrome counterparts at what they do. My stereotype was debunked. It makes me wonder, how many stereotypes like this are still out there, that are not as easy to disprove?

And this is what I’ve done with the icons that I prepared for the chart:


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