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July 9, 2010

The World Wide Wait

Filed under: Main — admin @ 12:01 am

It’s a joke from the early 1990s: The third W in WWW stood for wait. It’s coming back to haunt me.

Back in the early days, the Web was slow because the Internet was slow. There weren’t the fat pipes of today, with high-speed cable and DSL connections. Most of your online adventures were over a dial-up connection.

Wait. Wait. Wait.

Seriously, there’s a reason you don’t remember using a dial-up modem.

Well, actually, a lot of those old dial-up frustrations are coming back to haunt me.

It seems that recently, the web is getting slower and slower. It’s not the Internet. My upload/download speeds are fine,but web pages are taking longer and longer to load. What’s especially frustrating is that the page looks like it’s loaded, but the screen won’t scroll or the browser appears dead.

It ticks me off.

I’ve written before how I detest Adobe Flash, and how I find that it slows things down on any Web page. The recent slowdowns I’ve seen on some web pages, however, are not due to Flash.

Way back when, the culprit was large image files or animations. Even a 250K JPEG would take a while to load on a web page. (One of my early web browser speed tips was to disable image loading.)

Today, the new speed sucking demon is something called the widget.

Widgets are tiny windows into content provided elsewhere on the Internet. They can be ads, but also social networking information or windows into other sites. Unlike the widgets (or gadgets) you may have on your phone or computer desktop, the web page widgets are seriously slowing down those same web pages they’re meant to enhance.

I know that widgets are to blame because often I see the widget struggling to load. The widget just happens to be loading on a page that I’m trying to scroll around, but can’t because the browser is busy.

So what we have today is kind of like the nightmare of the early 1990s: Web pages are taking forever to load. Unlike the early 1990s, it’s not the connection speed that’s clogging the system. No, it’s because of stupid widgets dragging in content from elsewhere on the Internet. That stuff takes time.

My hope is that the widget craze abates. My fear is that the fools who think it’s just “too cool” will merely try to optimize the widgets for faster loading.

Egads! More widgets. Ugh.

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