I’ve been wondering lately if co-browsing is really such a great technology. I’m not just thinking of the weirdness that ensues when you try to co-browse a database like Factiva, which resists all attempts to be shared with patrons. These days, I’m wondering if the growing number of users who have firewalls (both at work and, more to the point, at home) is going to get in the way of this gee-whiz technology. As I’ve seen many times, a user’s firewall usually prevents any co-browsing from taking place. The suggested solution–convince the user to disable the firewall while we co-browse–is not too attractive these days thanks to all the viruses, worms, and malware out there.
After seeing my college’s computers taken down all day last month thanks to the Sasser worm, I’m not too comfortable asking a user to drop whatever paltry security they’ve set up to protect them from the evils of life online.
And then there are pop-up stoppers to worry about. Those interfere with co-browsing, too (another piece of technology we have to ask users to disable before we can start sharing our browser). So if some poor user has both a pop-up stopper and a firewall running, I have to ask her or him to turn them all off before I can start really helping them.
Almost makes me want to go back to just simple chat.