Web considered harmful

Jeremy Zwadony believes JavaScript and widgets are harmful, and points to situations such as Techcrunch and their recent slowdown. Of course, he hasn’t seen the supreme widget.

I get irritated at the sites that have dozens of things in their sidebar, all of which slow page loads. Luckily, most of these sites provide full content in their feeds so the only time I need worry about it is if I want to comment. Jeremy does have a point in that too many of these scripted beasties can slow a site down; or that if the widget is nefariously designed, can enable snooping at your visitors via the web service request. However, I think he gives far too much credit to the widget developers; or perhaps not enough credit to the page holder.

You have to have a level of trust between you and the widget, or API, or other service developer. If you don’t trust the source, it doesn’t matter what you use, or even how you use it. You could be getting text, and it could be harmful if it’s full of lies. If you trust the source, then again, it doesn’t matter what’s being delivered: data, an API, or a scripted solution.

Like Jeremy, I wish more services would provide an API. However, many of the more popular widgets are a front end for a service that does provide an API: the widget is just a way for a non-programmer to access the functionality. Flickr badgets come to mind, a company that’s owned by, why golly, Yahoo.

Other widgets manage ads, and there’s not much you can do about the ads other than, again, force people into learning PHP so they can do the code to an API themselves. Either that or let’s get rid of the ads. Hell, yes! I go along with this! Let’s all of us be broke together! Mike Arrington, just think how much time you’ll save if you just get rid of your ads–how zen-like your site will be.

Broke is the new black. Poor is the new web. It’s all Web $.0 from now on.

Pushing this stuff on to the server doesn’t change the problem: if you have a PHP program that’s waiting on ten services, it’s not going to be much better than ten different JavaScript clients waiting on ten different sources. As for how badges frustrate search engines, my only response is, what does that have to do with anything? Widgets don’t take the place of navigational links, nor do they replace in-post or article links. Widgets are just things.

Jeremy mentions at the end if more of these services were available as an API instead of a widget, they could be useful for Yahoo pipes. This is the “ooo, shiny!” syndrome talking. Pipes aren’t necessarily a better way of utilizing web services; they’re just a newer way. Out with the cruddy old Ajax, in with the shiny new pipes. In three months it will be something else, and we’ll all be bitching about pipes. “Out! Out damn pipes!”, or some other Shakespearian plaint.

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