Losing Weight While Looking East
WHILE WATCHING COLLEAGUES visiting India and China, once again I saw the value of web pages that weigh less. Because in some parts of those countries, there's no high-speed broadband to spread stories.
Actually, there are broadband blackspots in Ireland and Scotland. That's what voices on Audioboo tell me week after week. If things I publish and if course information published by Irish universities is meant to display quickly on the screens of foreign students, lightweight content is essential.
As I write this blog post, I'm listening to Chris Brogan's podcast. It arrives as both a download through Pocket Casts and as part of a well-engineered mobile website (in the screenshot). The audio plays without any latency (it's downloaded, not streamed) and the mobile web version is fast and informative.
If Irish universities expect to boost their student numbers by attracting people in southeast Asia and China, admissions departments need to accept that a video page weighing a megabyte will take ten minutes to load. Nobody waits that long for the first keyframe of a video.
Entire regions of the world simply cannot use YouTube because it stalls. The simplest work-around is to ensure YouTube video content is configured for mobile access. With that setting selected by the uploader, video content is downsampled for smaller screens and ther result is faster loading material for viewers. Large numbers of people who cannot see HD YouTube clips will be able to see the lower resolution mobile version.
As every year clicks past, I get faster internet service. Meanwhile, there are still large portions of the world that do not have high speed access to information. By keeping client side code small and lightweight and by allowing YouTube clips to be rendered for mobile screens, a big swath of readers, viewers and listeners open up.
Bernie Goldbach teaches social media as part of a Creative Multimedia Honours Degree at the Limerick Institute of Technology. Chris Brogan's Human Business Way is required listening on the social media module.