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  • January 24, 2020

    Long Live the Browser Wars!

    Google recently announced that it was going to strip cookies from its Chrome web-browser. This is a big deal for a lot of people, namely advertisers. In case you weren’t aware of what a cookie is (not the yummy kind you eat), let Digital Batman tell you. A cookie is a bit of third-party data that gets stored on your system when you access a website. This data is used to track your online activities such as product browsing history, location, etc. Advertisers can then use this data to target ads specifically to what they think you’re interested in. And furthermore, advertisers can “retarget” ads after you as you browse around the Internet from site to site. Ever wonder how a random website you visit seems to know that you were looking at plushy chairs on Amazon? Well, that’s retargeting and that’s powered by cookies. Which leads to a lot of privacy issues that have been debated for as long as the Internet has been around. Therefore, Google is trying to assuage users’ concerns about privacy by eliminating cookies. What will advertisers do? Well, they’ll probably have to come up with more transparent ways to gather your information, with your permission. Now I mention this because it reminds me about how things have both changed and remained the same over the last 25+ years of browsing the Internet. Back in the heyday of the World Wide Web (mid-to-late 1990s), we had a whole battlefield of web browsers all vying for dominance in The Browser Wars! It all started with Netscape Navigator (technically Mosaic in its initial form), invented by Marc Andreessen founder of Netscape. [Digital Batman had done a previous Progressive Pioneers profile on Andreessen back in July.] Navigator was initially released in December of 1994. It sported a simple interface with a few oversized navigation buttons (like Back, Home, and...