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Why Does Firefox Campus Edition Make Me So Irrationally Upset?

August 30th, 2007 · 5 comments

It seems like just about every productivity blogger on the planet has recently posted about the new Firefox Campus Edition. I’m starting to feel left out, and I’ll tell you why: I couldn’t care less about it.

Firefox bundled together three readily available plug-ins. Two of them — FoxyTunes and Zotero — are unnecessary injections of complexity into your already busy student life. If you own an iPod and a pad of paper, they’re redundant. Here’s a tip, take the time required to learn these tools, and use it instead to have a beer with your roommates.

The third plug-in, StumbleUpon, is cool. But it doesn’t need to be bundled. If you want it, go download it!

This still doesn’t explain, however, my mysterious anger. Maybe some students want those three plug-ins? It certainly can’t hurt to offer it…

What secretly upsets me, I think, is the painful marketing copy plastered on the ultra-slick Firefox Campus Edition homepage. It reads, in part:

“Introducing the best thing to hit campus since ramen noodles…Firefox Campus Edition combines the speed, security and features of the Firefox browser with special extras that give you streamlined access to music, cool sites and useful information.”

It sounds like a freakn’ Best Buy back to school commercial! It reeks of that painful collision between trying to be low-key and hip while still having to work in all of the bullet points from the latest marketing meeting — an effort that almost inevitably distills to trying to work words like “cool” and “stuff” into your copy. Ugh!

I guess I’m not quite ready for Firefox to make that transition from rouge open source project to something some institutionalized.

5 thoughts on “Why Does Firefox Campus Edition Make Me So Irrationally Upset?

  1. Gideon says:

    Actually, my initial reaction was pretty much the same. I’m okay with the idea of some sort of “academic firefox” setup, but this isn’t it (and the marketing, as I said in my own post about it, seems kind of pathetic). I think the FoxyTunes and Stumbleupon plugins are quite good, but honestly – academic? You’re going to pick three apps, and those are two going in?

    StumbleUpon CAN be used academically, but the noise ratio is so high that it’s really silly to try (though I actually came across a great page on Nietzsche I blogged about on my other site (MythicCulture with it). FoxyTunes, though? Yes, students like music.. but.. oy.

    Regarding Zotero, I’m gonna have to disagree – if I was going to put an academic Firefox package together, Zotero would definitely go in. I use other things to do what Zotero does, but I still find it a very nice piece of work.

  2. Crispin says:

    You’re dead wrong about Zotero (though right about the other stuff).

    Do you think it’s a good use of people’s time for them to spend hours typing in and formatting their references (ever tried reading the APA Publications Manual)? Or think they should use Endnote?

    Of course you probably use LaTeX/BibTeX, and, like most such, have forgotten how ordinary English-speaking computer users would find it easier to learn Mandarin than the geek text-processor of choice.

    Zotero should be at the core of most students’ computer use.

  3. pdxWoman says:

    Wow, I couldn’t disagree more about Zotero! I learned how to use it in about 10 minutes, it will write your bibliography for you in a matter of two or three drop down choices, it tracks huge numbers of journals, including searchable abstracts. I guess if I was in a field of study that didn’t require much scholarly writing, I’d find it a waste. After only a month of use, I find it invaluable. There’s no way a pad of paper can compare to the functionality of Zotero!

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