Category Archives: Evolution of the WWW

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.

Stop whining about privacy: YOU are the one GIVING it away

Following Facebook’s announcement of their “Home” app, many people seem to have read Om Malik’s melodramatic cry over spilt milk:

Om says, “But there is a bigger worry. The phone’s GPS can send constant information back to the Facebook servers, telling it your whereabouts at any time.”

Yes, it can Om, you’re right. And how does it do that, exactly? I’ll tell you shall I… Here’s a step-by-step;

  1. You download the app
  2. You agree to the app using  your GPS
  3. You open the app
  4. You allow the app to take over the home screen

OH MY GOD! I’ve suddenly realised how awful Facebook is – taking all that information from you without your consent(!)

Justifying his lying on the floor kicking and screaming, Om continues, “Facebook, a company that is known to have played loose-and-easy with consumer privacy and data since its very inception..”

Again, he’s spot on. But rather than make his point this shows how pathetic his argument is. If anything, that should have prepared him for the inevitability that Facebook will use his data. He appears to be saying,

“I can’t believe Facebook is using the huge amount of data about my life that I handed over!”

My response to Om, and anyone else whinging about their privacy within the Facebook wall, is;

If you willingly hand over any data about your life to any company whose terms, which you agreed to, state they can use that data then they will bloody well use it. If you don’t like it, don’t fucking hand over your data, you moron!

My next rant will be about why I LOVE handing over my data! 😉

Update: Instead of of that second rant, just read this which I agree with completely. In fact, I’m already allowing Google to track my every move and loving the benefits I’m getting.

Why I backed App.net

Given the choice I’d prefer to pay for a product than be the product.

I want ownership of my own data, my own mutterings, musing, incoherent rants and drivvle.

My own words and creations should be available to me in the format I want them in, not subject to someone else’s corporate branding guidelines and platform stifling despotism.

Being in a walled garden feels anathema to the world wide web that was envisaged by TBL and that I fell in love with so many years ago.

So many people whinge about being delivered ads on Facebook, in their Gmail, or promoted tweets on Twitter. Yet often (not always!) those same people don’t seem to get that they are the product.

App.net lays the foundation (important: Alpha does not equal App.net) for that relationship to fundamentally change, in their favour.

This is why I love Google…

Whilst watching the Olympic marathon I wondered about the length, so I asked Google what 26 miles is in kilometres, knowing it’d give me an instant conversion. A pleasant surprise was that Google figured I was probably watching the marathon given the timing of my query and also showed me the live results, as you can see from this screenshot.

image

Occasionally I see articles pop up from people (mostly copyright holders) whining about this kind of use of information by Google. The fact is, it’s incredibly useful to the user. These kind of intelligent results show exactly why Google commands such a massive dominance in the search market.

Bad ads

Finally, I  plucked up the courage to purchase my shiney new Samsung Galaxy S3 (more on that later) and whilst reading the latest news on the Guardian app I noticed that they (or their ad server people) still don’t know how to do ad targeting properly.

See my screenshot of the app below, taken on my new Samsung Galaxy S3 and showing me an advert for… wait for it… the Samsung Galaxy S3.

Obviously I’m never going to click that ad. I already own an S3. I’m using it!

The worst bit is that it’s easy to detect that I’m using it. They should know that I’m using an SGS3 and remove that ad accordingly. Any marketer wanting to keep their job should be aware of this and be eliminating such horrendous wastage from their marketing budget. You’d think the Guardian would want to make their offering useful, too.

image

Okay, rant over. As you were.

Think open data is just the realm of geeks? Not in Lichfield…

This is partly the reason why I love Lichfield so much. Our council CEO recently joined Twitter and was last night tweeting (much revered) webmaster, Stuart Harrion;

[blackbirdpie url=”http://twitter.com/#!/Ninadawesldc/status/133285420699095042″]

Where else do you get a council chief exec tweeting her webby on a Sunday evening about the Open Government License?!

Fantastic!

There is no web 1.0, 2.0 or 3.0

This is deliberately similar to my first Posterous post, “There is no new vs. old media“…

There is no web 1.0 or web 2.0 or even web 3.0. There is only the evolving web. I despise the use of the phrase “web 2.0” when it relates to web design, for example – it implies that it needs to have cool jQuery and Ajax stuff going on. You know what, if you’re building a site figure out your user need and build it using the right technologies. Don’t just build a “web 2.0” site ’cause it’s what all the cool kids are doing.

Okay, rant over. But who’s to say I’m right. Disagree at will using the comments.

This was posted via web from Philip’s posterous

Free your post code!

Today, Ernest Marples Postcodes was shut down by Royal Mail. The service enables great sites such as PlannngAlerts.com and The Straight Choice as well as many others.

The action is stifling digital innovation in the UK and really needs to be freed up. So, in order to combat this let’s free up the postcode data by creating our own version of Royal Mail’s Postcode Address File (PAF).

UPDATE: It turns out, this isn’t such a good idea. Read Matthew Somerville’s comment.

It’s really easy to do, and here’s how:

  1. Go to the Get Lat Lon site.
  2. Type your post code into the search box.
  3. Zoom in so you can see your house/location (use the Satellite view, top right).
  4. Centre the map so that the cross-hair rests on your house/location.
  5. Below the map will be two numbers representing the latitude and longitude. Copy/make note of these numbers.
  6. Go to the Free the Postcode site.
  7. Type in your details, and paste in the latitude and longitude you took down. (Note: you don’t have to use your real e-mail address, see Bruce’s comment below.)
  8. Type in the postcode of your house/location and click Submit.

You can also submit your address to the Open Postcode Database to free it from Royal Mail’s licensing restrictions.