A Biting Satire of Google’s 2008 Chrome Comic – The New Stack


For those of us old enough to remember Web 2.0 in its heyday, one of the classic “texts” of that era was the Chrome comic, which was released in September 2008 alongside the first Chrome browser version. As a tech blogger at the time, I was lucky enough to receive a hard copy of the comic, which I still have in my library to this day. Well, this week I got a surprise when I discovered a new “remix” of this comic online.

Released as “Contra Chrome”, at first glance it looked like the comic’s original author, Scott McCloud, had released an updated version of his creation. But on page two of the Contra Chrome website version, it became clear that this was a satire of the original comic, not an homage.

From page 2 of the Chrome comic remix.

Surely McCloud wouldn’t bite the hand that fed him in 2008? Or was it a success of Apple’s Safari team? (I must admit that was my first reaction, since I had discovered the remix via a happy tweet by an Apple employee.) Finally, after clicking on the website’s About page, the author revealed herself: Leah Elliott, a self-proclaimed “comic book artist and digital rights activist.”

Against Chromium

Ouch! From page 5 of Contra Chrome.

After careful reading of Elliot’s remix of the Chrome comic, which you can download as a PDF, it turns out to be an absolutely scathing critique of Google Chrome’s privacy policies. She reused McCloud’s cartoons, quite brilliantly it must be said, with resolutely anti-Google altered texts. The remixed comic has upset some of Google’s original web development team from the Web 2.0 era, although it has yet to elicit an official response from Google.

I contacted Elliot earlier this week to ask him a few questions. I wanted to find out her motivation for creating this remix, why she is so committed to Google’s privacy policies, and if she had any business reasons for posting the remix. She answered me and indicated that she was ready to answer my questions. So I sent them back (at his suggestion, using PGP encrypted email). However, as of this writing, I have received no further response. If I do, I’ll write about it in a separate post next week.

This week in development

Publishing WebAssembly public working drafts

The W3C WebAssembly Working Group has published three first public working drafts. As noted by Michael Larabel in Phoronix, among the proposals are “fixed-width SIMD, bulk memory operations, reference types, JavaScript BigInt support to WebAssembly i64, support for multiple return values ​​and import/export of mutable global variables”. The Hacker News thread has more comments to dig into.

In other WASM news, Renee Shah interviewed 18 startups that were “using WebAssembly in production or building basic infrastructure to build Wasm apps.” This is an enlightening article for those of you new to Wasm or wondering how it can fit into your app development pipeline.

Web3 stack overflow investigation

The Stack Overflow developer community had their say on the Web3 hype. In a survey of 595 developers, 25% think Web3 is the future of the internet, 15% think it’s a bunch of hype, 14% think it’s important for crypto and related applications, and 9% think it’s a scam. Apparently 36% answered “What is Web3?” — so they obviously haven’t read our coverage here at The New Stack.

The survey also looked at “which non-blockchain tags are most common among blockchain tags,” and unsurprisingly, JavaScript came out on top, followed by Python. “JavaScript is essential to Web3, but Web3 is not fundamental to the JavaScript ecosystem,” commented Matt Kiernander, Developer Advocate at Stack Overflow.

LEGO uses Chromium-Only APIs for a new app

In the interest of journalistic balance, I feel like I have to give Google Chrome some love at the end of this article. When it comes to web functionality, Google’s open-source Chromium browser project is second to none. But when LEGO announced a fancy new app that uses advanced web functionality – in the form of Serial API and Bluetooth Web API – in some quarters, it was offensive as monopolistic. However, I have my doubts as to why Mozilla and Apple have not chosen to support these APIs. If you read this Mozilla thread on GitHub about the Serial API, which dates back to May 2020, there are many compelling reasons to support it – for example, it enables web-based versions of educational and medical apps. Anyone who has struggled with the vagaries of a native medical app knows how bad some of these solutions are (I speak from experience, as a type 1 diabetic who has struggled with terrible iOS apps for years) .

Development Tweet of the Week

Finally, let’s end the week with a funny tweet! Maybe only Web3 developers will get it, because Nader Dabit is a hero in this community. Anyway, let me know with your nominations for next week, @ricmac.


About Author

Comments are closed.