All posts by philipjohn

I'm a WordPress developer most of the time, building awesome things for awesome people. I also like to do political type things, especially when technology is involved. I am a secular atheist, a father and a cyclist (MTB trails and road). Other than that I eat (fast) and read books.

The Bullshit Web, and some bullshit about AMP

Alright, let’s start off by saying that I’m definitely a little biased – part of my job involves working with the AMP team at Google and the fine folks at XWP on the AMP for WordPress plugin. I wanted to highlight some things about this Bullshit Web piece that’s going around, though. In short: the bit about AMP is largely bullshit.

AMP pages aren’t inherently faster than non-AMP pages

Where’s the data to back that up? I’ve seen (big) data that shows the exact opposite.

high-performing non-AMP pages are not mixed with AMP versions

Wrong! AMP Native means that sites can be AMP-first, and the WP plugin makes that incredibly easy now.

Google has a conflict of interest in promoting the format.

Of course, because it’s focus with search is to give people the best result, and that includes performance, so faster pages will be given a rankings boost. That’s good for the user!

So: if you have a reasonably fast host and don’t litter your page with scripts, you, too, can have AMP-like results without creating a copy of your site dependent on Google and their slow crawl to gain control over the infrastructure of the web.

This is true (and of course, if you want a fast host, choose VIP), but as Nick already stated, publishers aren’t doing that on their own. I think it’s a damn shame that Google has had to use it’s power to force publishers to stop cluttering up their pages with all the bullshit Nick is complaining about, but that’s where we are.

AMP shouldn’t be necessary, but it’s helping force publishers to lighten their pages and solve the very problem Nick is ranting about. I agree with him that there is a lot of bullshit, and that it’s bad for users. Google is trying to do something about it. It might not be perfect, but it’s having an impact. Does he have a better idea?

their slow crawl

As a bit of an aside: Google’s crawl definitely isn’t slow. In working with some of the biggest publishers on the web I can tell you that Google is incredibly fast with indexing. Sometimes to a fault, as it can cause real issues for publishers when they need to delete content.

He also says,

…users are increasingly taking matters into their own hands — the use of ad blockers is rising across the board, many of which also block tracking scripts and other disrespectful behaviours. Users are making that choice… They shouldn’t have to.

Correct! Just like Google shouldn’t have to use it’s clout to force publishers to do what they should be doing already, users shouldn’t have to take steps to improve the browsing experience for themselves because publishers won’t.

But what does Nick expect to happen? Ranting about it won’t change anything. You might not like it but it’s not as if publishers are doing this to deliberately degrade the user experience. There are well-justified business reasons that have been given more prominence over the user experience. What AMP has done is to give performance a real business impact, and give publishers that incentive to improve the user experience.

For now, it’s helping.

Happy 70th birthday, NHS, and thank you

Thank you for delivering me safely to my parents.
Thanks for all the eye tests and glasses.
Thanks for making sure I had healthy teeth despite my attempts to avoid brushing.
Thanks for looking after my sisters as they gave life to my nieces and nephews.
Thanks especially for nurturing the twins when they entered the world.
Thanks for saving my Dad’s life.
Thanks for helping our family through my Dad’s journey with dementia.
Thanks for saving my life. Twice.
Thank you for safely delivering my two wonderful children into the world.
Thanks for saving the lives of many of my friends, multiple times.

Thank you for doing all this for free.
Thank you for making sure we’re a healthy nation.
Thank you to all the staff for being so committed to doing the very best you can for patients, sometimes under immense pressure, with insufficient resources and inadequate pay. You are all heroes.

 

12 Years

Of course my WordPress journey is much longer, having picked up the software a while before joining WordPress.com.

At that moment, I didn’t even consider the idea that I might actually work at WordPress.com one day. I’ve come so far in those twelve years – I wonder where I’ll be in another twelve.

Autumn

I’ve been wanting to get back out on my mountain bike for months. As much as pulling the kids along is great fun(!), there’s nothing quite like shooting through the trees, twists and turns of a good single track. So I made a last-minute decision to go for a ride today, and what a lovely ride it was.

Autumn is coming and there was a low sun pouring through the trees.

After spending some time working in town I walked home the scenic route. Minster Pool was unusually calm and the setting sun provided just the right amount of illumination to show off those first few yellow leaves of autumn.

It’s a beautiful place.

New Star Trek series confirms there is no God in the Trek universe

After the nonsense of the “wormhole Gods” in DS9 I’m glad to read that there is no God in the new Star Trek series.

It’s no surprise that Star Trek TNG was a God-free zone, given creator Gene Roddenberry was an ardent atheist. Some of his thoughts on religion were worthy of so-called “New Atheists”:

For most people, religion is nothing more than a substitute for a malfunctioning brain.

I credit Star Trek with guiding a lot of my philosophy on life – my atheism and socialism – and I’m excited for the franchise. It’s welcome news, to me, that Star Trek Discovery will continue the future free of religion that Roddenberry envisioned.