I surf the web with NoScript set at the most stringent level. When I land on a web page I have never been to before, it presents plenty of empty light-yellow void boxes. I examine each piece of active content until the website is functional to my taste. Some I approve permanently (trusted). Some I block permanently (untrusted). Some I approve temporarily. Once NoScript has learned my rules, repeat visit are smooth and unencumbered.
I surf the web on a netbook-class (Intel Atom) machine and some pages that come to a grinding halt under the weight of the active payload become decently usable when the “consumer-hostile” code is prevented from loading.
Below is a list of what I classify as “consumer-hostile”. Your definition may vary.
- All kind of useless bells and whistles. Why do some sites use Flash to display a header that would be easily solved with a few bytes of text in a header tag? Fonts? use standard CSS @font-face. Extra-Bonus: your website will be understandable to search engines and you will not need to hire SEO charlatans to try to push its ranking up.
- Flash. Yes, Flash has its use, but it is a CPU hog that depletes the battery, increases the fan noise and turns the heat to a level that laptops become barely bearable on the laps. And it has its whole lot of issues with privacy and tracking.
In most cases, filtering all of this active content has only benefits to me. Site designers tend to do a good job at graceful degradation and the sites I use are mostly functional without active content. Good for accessibility, and good for me.
Some sites break if the “consumer-hostile” payload is not accepted. Sometimes the “consumer-hostile” payload is part of the core functionality. In those cases it becomes a trade-off. Am I really interested in the site? I may make a temporary exception, tolerate the active payload in full awareness of the consequences such as data collection by third parties despite the do-not-track header sent with every single request from my browser. In most cases I am not interested and won’t do.
Sometimes the payload is only for specific functions. Take for instance Microsoft’s Virtual Earth, Yahoo’s Maps, GoogleMaps, or other such webmaster tools that are given away for *free”. Free as in free of charge, but there is an implicit barter: your traffic in exchange for the tools. And that traffic is used to compile detailed profiles of consumer’s online activity. The link is not far away to their offline profiles, zip codes, and other information that marketers try to gather from many sources.
Popular websites incorporate on average 64 trackers on their pages. Thank you, but no thank you. Online advertising spending in the US is projected to 42 billions this year. For a population of approximately 309 millions. That’s roughly 12$/month per person. Assuming that all this money is spent to generate the content and services that are used by consumers to have the web as we know it today without ads would cost each consumer 12$/month. For a better web experience? I would pay. Would you?
Filed under: rant