robertogreco + wired   23

The Website Obesity Crisis
"Let me start by saying that beautiful websites come in all sizes and page weights. I love big websites packed with images. I love high-resolution video. I love sprawling Javascript experiments or well-designed web apps.

This talk isn't about any of those. It's about mostly-text sites that, for unfathomable reasons, are growing bigger with every passing year.

While I'll be using examples to keep the talk from getting too abstract, I’m not here to shame anyone, except some companies (Medium) that should know better and are intentionally breaking the web.

The Crisis

What do I mean by a website obesity crisis?

Here’s an article on GigaOm from 2012 titled "The Growing Epidemic of Page Bloat". It warns that the average web page is over a megabyte in size.

The article itself is 1.8 megabytes long."

Here's an almost identical article from the same website two years later, called “The Overweight Web". This article warns that average page size is approaching 2 megabytes.

That article is 3 megabytes long.

If present trends continue, there is the real chance that articles warning about page bloat could exceed 5 megabytes in size by 2020.

The problem with picking any particular size as a threshold is that it encourages us to define deviancy down. Today’s egregiously bloated site becomes tomorrow’s typical page, and next year’s elegantly slim design.

I would like to anchor the discussion in something more timeless.

To repeat a suggestion I made on Twitter, I contend that text-based websites should not exceed in size the major works of Russian literature.

This is a generous yardstick. I could have picked French literature, full of slim little books, but I intentionally went with Russian novels and their reputation for ponderousness.

In Goncharov's Oblomov, for example, the title character spends the first hundred pages just getting out of bed.

If you open that tweet in a browser, you'll see the page is 900 KB big.
That's almost 100 KB more than the full text of The Master and Margarita, Bulgakov’s funny and enigmatic novel about the Devil visiting Moscow with his retinue (complete with a giant cat!) during the Great Purge of 1937, intercut with an odd vision of the life of Pontius Pilate, Jesus Christ, and the devoted but unreliable apostle Matthew.

For a single tweet.

Or consider this 400-word-long Medium article on bloat, which includes the sentence:

"Teams that don’t understand who they’re building for, and why, are prone to make bloated products."

The Medium team has somehow made this nugget of thought require 1.2 megabytes.

That's longer than Crime and Punishment, Dostoyevsky’s psychological thriller about an impoverished student who fills his head with thoughts of Napoleon and talks himself into murdering an elderly money lender.
Racked by guilt, so rattled by his crime that he even forgets to grab the money, Raskolnikov finds himself pursued in a cat-and-mouse game by a clever prosecutor and finds redemption in the unlikely love of a saintly prostitute.

Dostoevski wrote this all by hand, by candlelight, with a goddamned feather."

"Everyone admits there’s a problem. These pages are bad enough on a laptop (my fan spun for the entire three weeks I was preparing this talk), but they are hell on mobile devices. So publishers are taking action.

In May 2015, Facebook introduced ‘Instant Articles’, a special format for news stories designed to appear within the Facebook site, and to load nearly instantly.

Facebook made the announcement on a 6.8 megabyte webpage dominated by a giant headshot of some dude. He doesn’t even work for Facebook, he’s just the National Geographic photo editor.

Further down the page, you'll find a 41 megabyte video, the only way to find out more about the project. In the video, this editor rhapsodizes about exciting misfeatures of the new instant format like tilt-to-pan images, which means if you don't hold your phone steady, the photos will drift around like a Ken Burns documentary.

Facebook has also launched, an effort to expand Internet access. The stirring homepage includes stories of people from across the developing world, and what getting Internet access has meant for them.
You know what’s coming next. When I left the homepage open in Chrome over lunch, I came back to find it had transferred over a quarter gigabyte of data.

Surely, you'll say, there's no way the globe in the background of a page about providing universal web access could be a giant video file?

But I am here to tell you, oh yes it is. They load a huge movie just so the globe can spin.

This is Facebook's message to the world: "The internet is slow. Sit and spin."

And it's not like bad connectivity is a problem unique to the Third World! I've traveled enough here in Australia to know that in rural places in Tasmania and Queensland, vendors treat WiFi like hundred-year-old brandy.

You're welcome to buy as much of it as you want, but it costs a fortune and comes in tiny portions. And after the third or fourth purchase, people start to look at you funny.

Even in well-connected places like Sydney, we've all had the experience of having a poor connection, and almost no battery, while waiting for some huge production of a site to load so we can extract a morsel of information like a restaurant address.

The designers of pointless wank like that Facebook page deserve the ultimate penalty.
They should be forced to use the Apple hockey puck mouse for the remainder of their professional lives. [shouts of horror from the audience]

Google has rolled out a competitor to Instant Articles, which it calls Accelerated Mobile Pages. AMP is a special subset of HTML designed to be fast on mobile devices.

Why not just serve regular HTML without stuffing it full of useless crap? The question is left unanswered.

The AMP project is ostentatiously open source, and all kinds of publishers have signed on. Out of an abundance of love for the mobile web, Google has volunteered to run the infrastructure, especially the user tracking parts of it.

Jeremy Keith pointed out to me that the page describing AMP is technically infinite in size. If you open it in Chrome, it will keep downloading the same 3.4 megabyte carousel video forever.
If you open it in Safari, where the carousel is broken, the page still manages to fill 4 megabytes.

These comically huge homepages for projects designed to make the web faster are the equivalent of watching a fitness video where the presenter is just standing there, eating pizza and cookies.

The world's greatest tech companies can't even make these tiny text sites, describing their flagship projects to reduce page bloat, lightweight and fast on mobile.

I can't think of a more complete admission of defeat."

"The other vision is of the web as Call of Duty—an exquisitely produced, kind-of-but-not-really-participatory guided experience with breathtaking effects and lots of opportunities to make in-game purchases.

Creating this kind of Web requires a large team of specialists. No one person can understand the whole pipeline, nor is anyone expected to. Even if someone could master all the technologies in play, the production costs would be prohibitive.

The user experience in this kind of Web is that of being carried along, with the illusion of agency, within fairly strict limits. There's an obvious path you're supposed to follow, and disincentives to keep you straying from it. As a bonus, the game encodes a whole problematic political agenda. The only way to reject it is not to play.

Despite the lavish production values, there's a strange sameness to everything. You're always in the same brown war zone.

With great effort and skill, you might be able make minor modifications to this game world. But most people will end up playing exactly the way the publishers intend. It's passive entertainment with occasional button-mashing.

Everything we do to make it harder to create a website or edit a web page, and harder to learn to code by viewing source, promotes that consumerist vision of the web.

Pretending that one needs a team of professionals to put simple articles online will become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Overcomplicating the web means lifting up the ladder that used to make it possible for people to teach themselves and surprise everyone with unexpected new ideas

Here's the hortatory part of the talk:

Let’s preserve the web as the hypertext medium it is, the only thing of its kind in the world, and not turn it into another medium for consumption, like we have so many examples of already.

Let’s commit to the idea that as computers get faster, and as networks get faster, the web should also get faster.

Let’s not allow the panicked dinosaurs of online publishing to trample us as they stampede away from the meteor. Instead, let's hide in our holes and watch nature take its beautiful course.

Most importantly, let’s break the back of the online surveillance establishment that threatens not just our livelihood, but our liberty. Not only here in Australia, but in America, Europe, the UK—in every free country where the idea of permanent, total surveillance sounded like bad science fiction even ten years ago.

The way to keep giant companies from sterilizing the Internet is to make their sites irrelevant. If all the cool stuff happens elsewhere, people will follow. We did this with AOL and Prodigy, and we can do it again.

For this to happen, it's vital that the web stay participatory. That means not just making sites small enough so the whole world can visit them, but small enough so that people can learn to build their own, by example.

I don't care about bloat because it's inefficient. I care about it because it makes the web inaccessible.

Keeping the Web simple keeps it awesome."
pagebloat  webdesign  maciejceglowski  2015  webdev  participatory  openweb  internet  web  online  minecraft  accessibility  efficiency  aesthetics  cloud  cloudcomputing  amazonwebservices  backend  paypal  google  docker  websites  wired  theverge  medium  javascript  advertising  ads  acceleratedmobilepages  mobile  html  facebook  freebasics  jeremykeith  timkadlec  facebookinstantarticles  maciejcegłowski 
january 2016 by robertogreco
Q&A;: Hacker Historian George Dyson Sits Down With Wired's Kevin Kelly | Wired Magazine |
"In some creation myths, life arises out of the earth; in others, life falls out of the sky. The creation myth of the digital universe entails both metaphors. The hardware came out of the mud of World War II, and the code fell out of abstract mathematical concepts. Computation needs both physical stuff and a logical soul to bring it to life…"

"…When I first visited Google…I thought, my God, this is not Turing’s mansion—this is Turing’s cathedral. Cathedrals were built over hundreds of years by thousands of nameless people, each one carving a little corner somewhere or adding one little stone. That’s how I feel about the whole computational universe. Everybody is putting these small stones in place, incrementally creating this cathedral that no one could even imagine doing on their own."
artificialintelligence  ai  software  nuclearbombs  stanulam  hackers  hacking  alanturing  coding  klarivanneumann  nilsbarricelli  MANIAC  digitaluniverse  biology  digitalorganisms  computers  computing  freemandyson  johnvanneumann  interviews  creation  kevinkelly  turing'smansion  turing'scathedral  turing  wired  history  georgedyson 
february 2012 by robertogreco
Page One: Banish Multi-Page Articles (Global Moxie)
"I DESPISE MULTI-PAGE ARTICLES WITH THE HEAT OF A MILLION SUNS. The Page One extension for Safari and Chrome fixes them, automatically displaying the single-page version of articles for several popular news sites. Install the extension now:"
tools  productivity  news  safari  chrome  googlechrome  extensions  browsers  plugins  singlepage  nytimes  newyorker  theatlantic  slate  wired  vanityfair  gq  lapham'squarterly  newrepublic  rollingstone  villagevoice  washingtonpost  thenation  businessweek  browser  from delicious
july 2011 by robertogreco
7 Essential Skills You Didn't Learn in College | Magazine
"1. Statistical Literacy: Making sense of today’s data-driven world.
2. Post-State Diplomacy: Power and politics, sans government.
3. Remix Culture: Samples, mashups, and mixes.
4. Applied Cognition: The neuroscience you need.
5. Writing for New Forms: Self-expression in 140 characters.
6. Waste Studies: Understanding end-to-end economics.
7. Domestic Tech: How to use the world as your lab."
arts  culture  education  wired  learning  lifehacks  skills  unschooling  deschooling  statistics  literacy  post-statediplomacy  diplomacy  remix  remixculture  appliedcognition  cognition  neuroscience  writing  twitter  microblogging  waste  saulgriffith  fabbing  science  diy  make  making  rogerebert  nassimtaleb  davidkilcullen  robertrauschenberg  jillboltetaylor  brain  barryschwartz  jonahlehrer  robinsloan  alexismadrigal  newliberalarts  remixing  from delicious
october 2010 by robertogreco
3.05: Gossip is Philosophy
"The right word is "unfinished." Think of cultural products, or art works, or the people who use them even, as being unfinished. Permanently unfinished. We come from a cultural heritage that says things have a "nature," and that this nature is fixed and describable. We find more and more that this idea is insupportable - the "nature" of something is not by any means singular, and depends on where and when you find it, and what you want it for. The functional identity of things is a product of our interaction with them. And our own identities are products of our interaction with everything else. Now a lot of cultures far more "primitive" than ours take this entirely for granted - surely it is the whole basis of animism that the universe is a living, changing, changeable place. Does this make clearer why I welcome that African thing? It's not nostalgia or admiration of the exotic - it's saying, Here is a bundle of ideas that we would do well to learn from."

[via: ]
1995  kevinkelly  brianeno  art  generative  hypertext  philosophy  unfinished  imperfection  culture  via:preoccupations  africa  technology  wired  society  learning  nostalgia  animism  interactivity  interaction  functionalidentity  ambient  wabi-sabi  from delicious
august 2010 by robertogreco
What You Want: Flickr Creator Spins Addictive New Web Service | Magazine
"[Hunch] isn’t just helping people shop for cars—it is getting its users to volunteer a truly impressive amount of unique psychographic data...

Fake may not be the tunnel-visioned tyro found at most Internet startups. She doesn’t keep a schedule, & she works on projects only when they feel “intuitively right.”

But there are few people more skilled at building online communities. “If you think about Caterina, she is literally one of the creators of user-generated content on Web”...

For Fake, Hunch is just latest step in her mission to make Internet a forum for people to interact, to turn it into one big board-game night. “One of the overarching goals of my career has been to make technology more human. You should be able to feel the presence of other people on the Internet.”

...She fell in love with Net because it allowed her to discuss Jorge Luis Borges w/ people in Denmark. (“I’m an insomniac. Who else is around in middle of night but people in other countries?”)"
caterinafake  hunch  borges  internet  cv  insomnia  generalists  matchmakers  social  collaborative  collaboration  semanitc  web  collaborativefiltering  search  socialmedia  flickr  gne  entrepreneurship  wired  games  play  relationships  socialobjects  poetry 
august 2010 by robertogreco
The Technium: Predicting the Present, First Five Years of Wired
"I was digging through some files the other day and found this document from 1997. It gathers a set of quotes from issues of Wired magazine in its first five years. I don't recall why I created this (or even if I did compile all of them), but I suspect it was for our fifth anniversary issue. I don't think we ever ran any of it. Reading it now it is clear that all predictions of the future are really just predictions of the present. Here it is in full:"
kevinkelly  technium  future  futurism  guidance  history  quotes  trends  value  90s  web  wired  death  dannyhillis  paulsaffo  nicholasnegroponte  peterdrucker  jaychiat  alankay  vernorvinge  nathanmyhrvold  sherryturkle  stevejobs  nealstephenson  marcandreessen  newtgingrich  brianeno  scottsassa  billgates  garywolf  johnnaisbitt  mikeperry  marktilden  hughgallagher  billatkinson  michaelschrage  jimmetzner  brendalaurel  jaronlanier  douglashofstaster  frandallfarmer  rayjones  jonkatz  davidcronenberg  johnhagel  joemaceda  tompeters  meaning  ritual  technology  rituals 
may 2010 by robertogreco
The Wired Tablet App: A Video Demonstration | Epicenter |
"Last week Jeremy Clark from Adobe and I unveiled the first glimpse of the Wired Reader at TED. Above, you’ll see a video, narrated by Jeremy and Wired Creative Director Scott Dadich, who led our tablet team, that shows more. It explains why the tablet is such a groundbreaking opportunity for magazines such as ours."
wired  magazines  ipad  ereaders  ebooks  technology  journalism  webdesign  adobe  tablet  mobile  video  interface  interactive  media  publishing  design  air  flash  ui  webdev 
february 2010 by robertogreco
5 Reasons to use SPORE in the Classroom | GeekDad |
Nothing earth shattering in the list, then the comments spin off to DRM, classroom teaching, etc.
games  spore  wired  drm  teaching  learning  videogames  gaming  play  seriousgames 
november 2009 by robertogreco
Worldchanging: The Real Green Heretics
"If you want truly dangerous bright green ideas, go way out beyond what the conventional wisdom thinks is possible...Think, instead, of the implications of ideas like zero energy, zero emissions, zero waste, closed loops, true-cost accounting for the value of ecological services, product-service systems, visible flows, totally transparent backstories, open innovation, green infrastructure, etc. These concepts are really weird, full of new insights and critical uncertainties -- and they, or ideas like them, are very quickly going to become the operating principles of our entire society. If we want to avoid a catastrophic collision with ecological reality, we need to change our thinking. Our ideas of what's normal, or even what's possible, will not outlast the next decade. Unfortunately, Wired's list of heresies is a list of normal, contemporary approaches and current environmental commonplaces packaged in a way designed to shock and titillate."
sustainability  activism  green  worldchanging  alexsteffen  future  culture  society  technology  climatechange  ecology  solutions  environment  urban  energy  media  wired  greenwashing 
december 2008 by robertogreco
Infoporn: Tap Into the 12-Million-Teraflop Handheld Megacomputer
"next stage in technological evolution is...the One Machine...hardware is assembled from our myriad devices, its software is written by our collective online behavior...the Machine also includes us. After all, our brains are programming & underpinning it"
computing  wired  cloud  kevinkelly  cloudcomputing  evolution  singularity  science  innovation  infodesign  collectiveintelligence  intelligence  computers  human  networks  mobile  mind  visualization  internet  future  brain  crowdsourcing  ai  data  it  learning2.0  trends  storage 
july 2008 by robertogreco
Inconvenient Truths: Get Ready to Rethink What It Means to Be Green
"Winning the war on global warming requires slaughtering some of environmentalism's sacred cows. We can afford to ignore neither the carbon-free electricity supplied by nuclear energy nor the transformational potential of genetic engineering. We need to t
environment  green  science  climate  globalwarming  climatechange  controversial  conservation  energy  transportation  sustainability  wired  worldchanging  cities  policy  future  carbon  earth  technology  development  nuclear  urban  urbanism  footprint  organic 
june 2008 by robertogreco
Wired Science Scores Exclusive Twitter Interview with the Phoenix Mars Lander | Wired Science from
"to catch up with the personal life of this robotic lander carrying out a heroic mission millions of miles from home...we reveal the real identity of the Phoenix Mars Lander's Tweets. Don't read on if knowing the truth will spoil your fun."
mars  nasa  twitter  humor  science  space  wired 
june 2008 by robertogreco
Where It All Began: Images From Wired's Early Days: Executive editor Kevin Kelly collates Wired's heuristics from assembled senior staff during Wired's first retreat soon after the 1993 launch
"a place people want to work," "entrepreneurial spirit," "should look like a large home office," "no editorial calendar, not marketing driven," "lead, not follow," "stay lean and mean," and "legendary contributor relations." + "improving constantly"
kevinkelly  wired  history  organizations  leadership  administration  management  workplace  1993  journalism 
may 2008 by robertogreco
The Pedal-to-the-Metal, Totally Illegal, Cross-Country Sprint for Glory
"Alex Roy has a crazy dream: to beat the legendary Cannonball Run record by crossing the country in under 32 hours and 7 minutes. Floor it!"
racing  cars  willwright  us  crosscountry  wired 
october 2007 by robertogreco
Q&A: Ridley Scott Has Finally Created the Blade Runner He Always Imagined
Thom Mayne Architect "Blade Runner anticipated the conception of the metropolis that we have now, as a global phenomenon. It's so thorough in this depiction that it's incredibly useful to anyone making environments. It reminded architects to think about t
film  wired  bladerunner  losangeles  future  cities  physical  environment  architecture  design  ridleyscott  interviews 
september 2007 by robertogreco
Wired 15.03: Snack Attack!
"Movies, TV, songs, games. Pop culture now comes packaged like cookies or chips, in bite-size bits for high-speed munching. It's instant entertainment - and boy, is it tasty."
media  culture  entertainment  technology  wired 
march 2007 by robertogreco
WIRED Blogs: Bodyhack: Hacking My Child's Brain, Part 3
"After reading about so-called "brain hacks" like that of Dilbert creator Scott Adams, I've become solidly convinced that my son Caleb doesn't need a coping strategy, he needs his brain to be recalibrated. With the help of some professionals and some surr
brain  wired  learning  research  children  parenting  neuroscience  neurotechnology  education  schools  hacks 
february 2007 by robertogreco
Wired 8.06: Exploring the Unmaterial World
"Sometimes not building is the right answer, but it is not one that architects are trained to recommend. When appropriate, AMO can even propose the destruction of buildings "
architecture  remkoolhaas  wired  bigidea  design  libraries  oma  amo  space  work  ideas  interaction  unproduct  notbuilding 
february 2007 by robertogreco

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