June 2019 AMP Criticisms

created Jun 24, 2019

I saw these two Hacker News threads over the weekend of Jun 22-23, 2019.

AMP for email is bad (tutanota.com)

Google clears up AMP’s confusing URLs by hiding google.com (zdnet.com)

Before excerpting from those two above HN threads, I like this reluctantly pro-AMP comment from this Jun 11, 2019 HN thread. In my opinion, this observation is less about praising AMP and more of a critique about our modern web designs. Blame the web publishers and not Google.


WE don't live in an ideal world and AMP is my only option of getting de-bloated webpages. I would love if managers and directors would do this themselves and AMP wouldn't be needed, but that's just not the case.

I have to choose between downloading some text and images to read an article or load 5MB JavaScript SinglePageApp with tracking, ads, auto playing video's...

I know in an ideal world AMP would be useless, but until we reach that world I'm going to prefer AMP links over normal ones.

Since the media industry maintains the worst designed websites in the world, Google created an antidote in 2015, called Accelerated Mobile Pages.

But Google maintains what is now the world's most popular web browser. Google and web developers want websites to function like native apps. That means bloating and over-complicating web BROWSERS and websites.

Google promotes a complex, bloated web. Web developers and the dreaded stakeholders want to use the new web technologies, like they are toys and not tools. Do the complex, bloated web designs solve problems? Once the media industry has adopted bloated web designs, Google provides a solution with AMP. Great vicious cycle.

Another comment from that Jun 11, 2019 HN thread:

I think the issue is so many sites load too much crap into their pages, for what should be relatively simple articles. The websites could have just written really simple/fast pages... but they didn't. AMP forced the issue.

Of course, google could have just favored really small/fast site that worked well on mobile... but this way they get the extra lock in.

And not all web developers want to create obnoxiously bloated websites. Many web developers take orders from someone else. The Pointy-haired Bosses order developers to load their websites with several megabytes of JavaScript, ads, and trackers.

October 2015 recode/vox.com article

It’s not often that Re/code is the one getting sassed on our own stage. But Google Search boss Amit Singhal tried to do just that on Thursday at the Code/Mobile conference.

In emphasizing why an online publisher like Re/code should be using AMP, Google’s version of Facebook’s Instant Articles, designed to make content load faster on phones, Singhal held up a printout of this 250-word Kara Swisher story alongside a print version of a Harry Potter book. Singhal’s point?

When someone views the Re/code story, their browser is downloading the equivalent of a book of text, which takes time, he said. If the page had been rendered with the help of AMP* instead, the page would load much more efficiently and quickly.

That's true. And media orgs gave Google the opening and incentive to create AMP, which media orgs support, and then the media complains about Google.

My May 16, 2019 post where I wonder why media orgs, especially newspapers, maintain websites. I also mention War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy/Tolstoi.

War and Peace : http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/2600

The Kindle version is 5.2 MB.

In printed form, War and Peace is typically over 1000 pages long.

Many single web articles produced by media orgs are larger than War and Peace when counting ALL of the crap that unsuspecting readers download to view one article.

Excerpts from the top comment from the HN thread about confusing AMP URLs.

I just don't get how the smart people at Google allow this to happen. The developers of Chrome and AMP can try to rationalize bad behavior but I'm surprised how all their coworkers let it stand. There was once a Google that would have been displeased with this kind of action.

Excerpts from a comment in the thread about AMP for email.

Both amp4web and amp4mail are attempts at taking old, established, and perfectly good elements of the Internet, and turning them into something that serves the interests of the adtech industry, at the expense of users.

A Google employee who does not work on anything related to AMP said:

AMP for email basically does one thing: it enables interactive emails without allowing arbitrary code.

About 20 years or so ago, email got ruined when HTML-based email messages were supported by email clients. And now Google wants to use AMP create interactive emails, which basically means, users can execute email web apps within their email clients. These email web apps [???] can be office productivity utilities within a company's network or maybe private functions at public websites. This is still more bastardization of email, which should have been kept simple, but like most things, businesses prefer to ruin simple functions that already worked well.

HTML emails??? In a text-based email, provide a link to a web page.

Interactive emails??? In a text-based email, provide a link to a web app.

Nope. Keeping things simple makes too much sense. We need complexity because we are too lazy to copy and paste a URL.