Google wants to AMP up the internet.

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Google brought internet users a lot of good things such as their search engine, Gmail and Google- analytics, among a myriad of other things. As wonderful as these things are, Google did not come up with them out of a sense of altruism, rather they are all a means to help Google do what it does best, serve advertising.

One of Google’s latest offerings is Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) a web development framework that helps content and attendant ads load faster on mobile devices. Due to gaps in wireless connectivity like reception, varying qualities of mobile devices and cel phone tower networks, it is essential web pages load quickly and reliably when users browse. Particularly when half of all those who browse the web do so from a mobile device. Generally, this writer finds that the ads tend to load first and seamlessly while the browser struggles with content. Google seems to be aware of this and are looking for ways for ads to be a more pleasant experience as opposed to pop up ads featuring videos that blast audio at top volume. Kinder, gentler ads that are more pleasant to view among content does not seem to be such a bad idea. Ad blockers are made for a reason and no matter how clever ad programmers are, people still find ways to disable them. So why not make ad experiences that suck less?

Websites are generally made up of Hyper Text Mark-Up Language (HTML) and Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) with other things included such as Javascript/Jquery, PhP, and Python, among other tools, but the first two items are core. What Google did was provide a framework for a parallel version of a website, optimized for mobile. Again, we already had versions of mobile webpages which features a streamlined version of content with images and text arranged to best fit mobile viewports. Google took this a few steps further and stripped down the html even further while storing a cached version on their own servers. Some clever javascript also loads images and text as you scroll down, rather than download the whole page. All this leads to a much faster browsing experience, so much so that The New York Times and Twitter, among others, have adopted this framework for some of their webpages. Google also opensourced the AMP framework to help encourage widespread adoption.

However, Google also set it up such that those who adopt the AMP framework for their websites get preferred treatment in website rankings. Generally, minimum website requirements are regulated by the W3C Consortium aka Word Wide Web Consortium who provide guidelines by which websites are built. Google seems to be setting the web building standards themselves and rewarding those who adopt the way they build sites ‘the Google Way’ with higher rankings. This may or may not be a bad thing, a faster and more reliable web is good for everyone.

But remember, the idea to do this is to help Google’s bottom line, so money (always) factors into this. It would be interesting to see where the W3C stand on this issue. However, if the Internet has taught us anything, is that users will always place convenience over their rights or any sort of ethical consideration. Perhaps the future is AMP, with or without the blessings of the W3C.