Internet Explorer, PubMed and the End of the World

If you haven’t heard about the  Mayan civilzation’s calendar predicting the end of the world on December 21, 2012, then you have been living under a rock.  Personally I believe the Mayans were on to something.  Instead, I believe the end of the world will happen on January 1, 2013.  Why?

As of January 1st NCBI will no longer support Internet Explorer 7 and all the hospitals that haven’t upgraded will begin to have problems searching PubMed. You can’t blame the Mayan’s for not warning us.  I think they were pretty close to their prediction considering that browsers and the Internet were not known in AD 250.  I just think all of the doomsday prophets just translated things wrong (wouldn’t be the first time that happened). 

The end may not come as a big bang right on the New Year, but as NLM makes enhancements and changes to NCBI the people in the IE 7 hospitals will begin to have problems with PubMed.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/guide/browsers

The compatibility issue is just going to continue on.  The newly launched PubReader hasn’t even been tested on Internet Explorer and from the looks of the browser compatibilty chart they aren’t dilly dallying around with IE 8 or 9, if they design for Explorer they are going straight for IE 10. 
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/about/pr-browsers/

Since PubReader was “designed particularly for enhancing the readability of PMC journal articles on tablet and other small screen devices,” the compatability for desktop and laptop browsers may not be an issue for a while. 

But this brings up the issue of IT departments needing to update the browsers.  Many librarians I have communicated with have expressed how getting IT to upgrade anything (including browsers) is a monumental task.  Just from my average web browsing it seems to me that a lot of web sites are jumping from IE 7,8 to IE 10.  Even more frustrating/interesting for hospital librarians is that there seems to a growing number of people not even designing for Explorer. 

Knowing who is winning the browser wars is tricky and getting good data on browser market share really depends on the site that measures market share.  Network World’s article “Browser battle: Chrome vs. Firefox vs. IE vs. Opera,” says “it’s difficult to say who’s on top in this four-way scrap. For one thing, different methods of measuring market share often provide very different numbers – while data from NetMarketshare.com shows IE in front with 54% of the market for October 2012, StatCounter gives a slight edge to Chrome, about 35% to 32%. W3Schools’ information paints another picture again, showing a big lead for Chrome (44%) over about 32% for Firefox and just 16% for IE.” 

It may just be me and my apocalyptic Mayan frome of mind but I am thinking of the Thunderdome for browsers. Although saying “Four browser enter, one browser leaves” isn’t as cool as Tina Turner’s line, “Two men enter, one man leaves.” 

Basically with the amount of browsers vying for for top spot it makes it difficult for us and IT to keep up.  So it is easy to see how people can be in this predicament.  So instead of stocking up on food and water in anticipation of the end of the world, start working on your IT department to upgrade your browsers.

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8 comments for “Internet Explorer, PubMed and the End of the World

  1. December 12, 2012 at 1:01 pm

    Krafty,

    I love your Thunderdome analogy, but I don’t see why there should be one leading browser. I use different browsers for different purposes: Our intranet only works with IE, but I prefer Firefox for searching databases. Chrome has some nice features but I seldom use it after it consistently warned me about visiting https sites (my bank, for example; it would cross off the “s” with a big red X… not sure why, but it didn’t make me feel secure about online banking).
    I am a proponent of having a variety of options.
    Happy Browsing!

  2. David Howard
    December 12, 2012 at 1:25 pm

    Portable Apps on a flash drive is your answer. When I was a TA at UNT I couldn’t get IT to do anything. After all, I’m only a grad student. I needed to install some audio editing software (Audacity) and I didn’t want to wait on IT so I got, *ahem*, crafty. So, grab an old flash drive, install portable apps, select your favorite browsers, Dropbox, and whatever else looks good to you and leave IT alone. Also, I found that I was able to install portable apps on my shared network drive, so I didn’t even need a flash drive.
    http://portableapps.com/

  3. KraftyLibrarian
    December 12, 2012 at 4:35 pm

    That is a great alternative if your computers aren’t locked down. Ours are so locked down that they will not launch or run any apps or programs that are on USBs. IT locked that feature down looong ago because it is a great method for hidden virus apps to get in.

  4. KraftyLibrarian
    December 12, 2012 at 4:36 pm

    Hey Barbara,
    Like I said I think my mind was on the apocalypse and Mad Max came to mind. I like having different browsers but I think hospital ITs are looking for just one to support and win in the Thunderdome.

  5. Patricia Devine
    December 12, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    What about having MLA or NLM take a stronger position and try harder to influence hospital IT? Because of course it’s possible for browsers to be upgraded, they just have chosen not to allocate the resources to do so. But when NLM products cannot be used to the fullest extent due to an outdated browser, it’s past time. Would a national task force of some sort — including hospital IT, health care providers, and librarians — work? What can we do to move this forward?

  6. Mary
    February 24, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    I think we should get rid of old browsers and IE altogether and ask people around the world to do the same. There are great alternatives to IE like Chrome and Safari. Also we can follow a “Switch to a new browser day” where we can have a message on our homepages to ask people with old browsers to switch to new ones. I really think this can be done and it can be very effective.
    Here is the link to that idea: http://www.beaconwatch.com/post.php?id=18

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