From HN comments: "Gemini sites load so fast, it's a little crazy". Not at all, what's crazy is that we've come to accept as normal that downloading O(1000) words of text that we actually care about reading takes long enough to notice and sometimes might make your laptop fan spin up a little - in 2020!

I feel like I am quoting Maciej Cegłowski's "The Website Obesity Crisis" every other week at this point, but it's such a super-condensed source of white-hot truth and insight that I don't feel bad:

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

This is the most obvious and natural idea in the world, but somehow it's a genuinely radical position. I think the battle is lost on the web, but if you start again and only put in what you need you just arrive by default at a situation of what feels like breakneck speed.

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@solderpunk Sure, a typical 90s website is quite snappy with modern networks and computers. It is also rather ugly. The question that should be asked is, what is an acceptable load time? Let's say 100 ms is deemed fast enough. A speed-up to 10 ms would then be of little benefit. The extra capacity might be better spent making the page better in some other way. The trouble with too many websites is that they take seconds to load, not that they are larger per se.

@mansr @solderpunk They do take longer to load. To load js libraries, photos in ridiculously large resolution, ads and trackers, videos to play automatically…none of this is necessary to make a website useful *or* pretty. Just open a news website and watch the requests in your browser’s dev tools.

Also I’d argue that 10ms is hell of a speedup. Also remember that there are many people whose internet connection sucks, for who this will scale up to even more.

@irimi1 @solderpunk I totally agree that many websites are way too bloated. What I'm saying is that there is such a thing as fast enough. Below some limit, you won't perceive the difference anyway.

@mansr @solderpunk I was trying to say that this “fast enough” is rarely achieved in my opinion, and that it also varies depending on hardware and connection.

@irimi1 @solderpunk Maybe the problem is that in the 90s, even lean websites were slow to load (because modems), and people got accustomed to that. When bandwidth increased, web designers (besides becoming a thing) kept the load times and bloated the pages a lot instead of trying to strike some kind of balance. Since people were used to the web being slow, nobody complained.

@irimi1 @mansr The fact that improvements taking advantage of faster networks and computers are not done in a way which can degrade gracefully on slower networks and computers is also a huge problem.

@irimi1 @mansr I don't think that lightweight websites necessarily need to look ugly, although I grant that many of them do (sometimes even intentionally). But I guess this is a matter of taste.

It's true that you can take this principle to extremes and insist that an ugly, hard to navigate website remain exactly as ugly and hard to navigate as it is so that it loads in 0.1 ms instead of 1 ms, even though this is not a perceptible difference.

But I think that was has actually happened so far has been so far away from that extreme that I still feel comfortable endorsing the general philosophy.

A lot of what's added on top of a website to differentiate it from a typical 90s website has nothing to do with aesthetics or readability or usability, but instead to do with advertising or surveillance or influencing/hijacking mood/attention. Some of it *does* have to do with aesthetics or readability or usability, but isn't done proportionately. Of course this stuff is hard to quantify, but speaking loosely, making a website 100 times "fatter" (filesize, rendering time) to make it 10 times "nicer" is a bad trade off.

@solderpunk @irimi1 Making the site 100 times fatter in order to be 10 times nicer is fine if the network is 1000 times faster, which it pretty much is. The problem is that the websites got 10000 times fatter.

@solderpunk @irimi1 On the bright side, look at all the things we've got rid of:
- Blinking text
- Scrolling text
- Flash
- Java applets
- ActiveX
- Auto-playing MIDI tunes
- IE 6
- Sites that only work in IE 6

@mansr @solderpunk Right, now we have large scrolling images in website headers, autoplaying videos on news sites, full-screen pop-ups for newsletters, changing fonts of text as it is loaded from elsewhere, endless javascript crap for trivial things/effects, 2min video clips interrupting youtube videos, interfaces that make your laptop fan spin up for **scrolling down a website**…

I could go on but my point is we came up with truckloads of crap even worse than in the 90s.

@irimi1 @solderpunk Too true, but at least the "under construction" banner seems to be dead and buried.

@mansr @solderpunk I’m at least equally annoyed by the crap we came up with as the crap we got rid of. I’m sorry I can’t share your enthusiasm about the stuff we got rid off ;)

@mansr @solderpunk I think there’s a point of “good enough” at which a site doesn’t really get nicer by blowing up its size. But sites get blown up anyways, I feel like.

@solderpunk @irimi1 @mansr

Most of the aesthetic appeal of websites is created with effective css, which doesn't require much overhead at all.

@solderpunk @irimi1 @mansr Yeah - as an example, I tried to make pretty, but being zero-JavaScript does force it to be a bit clunky to use.

@andybalaam @solderpunk @irimi1 Javascript used responsibly can make a site both faster and more friendly to use. For example, AJAX or websockets or whatever it's called this week can be used instead of posting a form and reloading the whole page. An example of bad Javascript is reimplementing the text input box in such a way that blinking the cursor uses all available CPU time.

@mansr @solderpunk @irimi1 Totally agree. I plan a light-ish version with JavaScript (probably a framework), but it was fun to make something 100% js-free.

@andybalaam @mansr @solderpunk I certainly agree one can use JS responsably and build fast and pretty applications or websites with it. I just think many webdevs don’t.

I went to a webdev meetup of a local company once to get a better understanding of development outside my domain. That’s where I first realised that all this framework/dependency/cruft-hole is so complex, that there are package managers built solely for the purpose of dealing with it. Told me a lot about the state of webdev.

@andybalaam @solderpunk @irimi1 Oh, and any Javascript that reacts to the scroll position is pure evil.

@irimi1 @mansr @solderpunk And by "many people", we can easily say "anyone in about 98% of America", which haven't seen speeds increase since the 1990s.

@mansr @solderpunk Part of the problem is that the rendering engine should be doing the job of making it look good, not the markup

Markup should be made to look good by default, and the 90s websites were written for 90s design sensibilities, 90s monitors, and 90s rendering, they were not ugly in their time, and using modern design language doesn't require bad practice

@mansr @solderpunk websites today routinely download four or five times the size of Moby Dick for each page load in order to display less than a thousand words of actual content.

Even accounting for caching that's a tremendous amount of waste, and bandwidth quotas are still a thing in most of the world so you're burning through users bandwidth for absolutely nothing. Not to mention battery on mobile devices.

For fluff.

@mansr @solderpunk also check out and

With just HTML and CSS you've got really good looking minimalist websites, no bloat, fully semantic if you write your HTML right, loads instantly, etc.

We're not choosing between pretty fat sites and ugly slimmed sites, that's a false dichotomy.

We're choosing between bad sites and good sites.

Choose good.

@solderpunk The waste today is just infuriating.
Compared to when I started we now have infinite cpu, ram, and storage, and yet your UI is slower today than it was in the 80s.

@solderpunk Take a look at my account's header image! I took it from that talk...

@solderpunk to put it into other terms: 60 years ago, 64k memory was sufficiant for a guidance computer on the Apollo moon mission. Today, your computer should have 8g RAM to browse an average website.

@solderpunk i certainly agree with that estatement. I think that people pay more attention to aestetic over funtionality and that's the wrong approach in my opinion. Don't get me wrong, I like pretty sites with a beautiful design but only wjen that aestetic and design does not get in the way of functionality. The mindset changed too much the functionality means something different compared to 20 years ago too. :ablobcatcoffee:

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