The Near Futurist

The web page isn’t half empty, it’s half full!

Sometimes the things that annoy you most can surprise you in delighting you given a completely different context. So that’s the lede — now that I haven’t buried it, let me tell you what I mean.

Blogs and other content sites are wonderful. It seems my appetite for informational input, as far as I’ve tested, really knows no limits, and Web sites chock full of interesting information, thought-provoking viewpoints, and insightful analyses feed the part of me that craves this stuff. But lately, I’ve become increasingly annoyed at the content-to-other-crap ratio. More and more, site owners are shoving things into both the left and right hand columns. Some are interesting and useful, while some are simply irrelevant and annoying. I’ve seen pages where the amount of space taken up by actual content is less than 20% of the screen real estate!

The primary way these sites compress the area used up by actual useful content is by fitting them into a narrow column down the page. Daily Kos is a great example of this, where despite your political leanings, everyone can agree that there’s an awful lot of non-content content on the page that has questionable utility and value to the content on the page. With so little space dedicated to actual content, in what context would this be a good thing?

And this is where the “web page isn’t half empty, it’s half full.” Because on the Web, this situation is annoying, as so much real estate is taken up by non-content. But on an iPhone, the narrow column format for content means that on a small screen like the iPhone’s, once you zoom in on the content, it makes it far easier to read.

I now cross my fingers and shake my accelerometer once for good luck hoping that this next page that I want to read has a narrow column for the content on the page — and when it doesn’t, I ponder throwing the iPhone down in disgust and walking away.

Annoyance has turned into delight — I now would love to buy the designers of these sites a beer! Of course, that glass of beer you can bet will only be half full. I still have to bear viewing them on my full-sized PC, after all.

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