Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Bullshit Web

Nick Heer (Hacker News):

The average internet connection in the United States is about six times as fast as it was just ten years ago, but instead of making it faster to browse the same types of websites, we’re simply occupying that extra bandwidth with more stuff. Some of this stuff is amazing: in 2006, Apple added movies to the iTunes Store that were 640 × 480 pixels, but you can now stream movies in HD resolution and (pretend) 4K. These much higher speeds also allow us to see more detailed photos, and that’s very nice.

But a lot of the stuff we’re seeing is a pile-up of garbage on seemingly every major website that does nothing to make visitors happier — if anything, much of this stuff is deeply irritating and morally indefensible.


In isolation, the few seconds that it takes to load some extra piece of surveillance JavaScript isn’t much. Neither is the time it takes for a user to hide an email subscription box, or pause an autoplaying video. But these actions compound on a single webpage, and then again across multiple websites, and those seemingly-small time increments become a swirling miasma of frustration and pain.

Qualitatively, it makes using the Web feel so much slower on my iPhone that I try to avoid doing that.

1 Comment RSS · Twitter

It makes me sad to think about what I thought the web would turn into when I first got on it nearly 25 years ago, compared to what it is today. I think things really started to go downhill around 2005. That seems to be the turning point when it went from a thing that was mainly used by nerds, technologists, academics, etc to something that the media, traditional retail, etc could exploit for sales and marketing purposes. There was so much potential back in the days of blogs and interesting homegrown websites that reflected people's passions (forget looking at a page's source code these days, it's nothing but gibberish on most sites). Now everything has become corporate, everything is behind some sort of walled garden (like Facebook), everything is seen as an opportunity to be "monetized". I wonder what kids these days think about the internet, since it has always existed as a popular commodity since they were born. It's there at their fingertips, 24/7 — just something to be consumed. Which is a shame, because the internet used to be a fun place to explore and find new things. Now it seems like it's just a place for crass commercialism, phony narcissistic photos on Instagram, and Twitter outrage-of-the-day. Yeah, the cool and nerdy stuff is still out there, but as a whole the internet just seems a lot different than it did 15-20 years ago... now it's become the 21st century TV, making us dumber :( I'm changing jobs soon to something that doesn't require me to be online every day, and I'm getting rid of my iPhone... I refuse to partake any further in the zombieland that the Internet has become. Get off my porch with your damn Snapchat!

Leave a Comment