Wadsworth and our Readable Future
The web is full of ‘the ugliest advertising in the history of the media’ 1 and relentlessly depressing reading experiences. I’m fairly upbeat about this.
Birth of a Meme: the Wadsworth Content
This video both defines and defies the Wadsworth Constant:
What and Why:
Redditor makes throwaway comment about the first 30% of any YouTube video being a bit of a waste of time. Internet discovers it. YouTube engineer engineers it. It becomes canon. Wikipedia is not on board with the whole ‘canon’ thing. But it doesn’t matter. Somebody builds a Chrome extension. Etc.
I like this story.
It could be another wunder-ously nebulous example of cloud-sourcing. Or another demonstration of Reddit bonhomie.
Brent Simmons puts it better — it’s The Readable Future:
The ability to read uncluttered web pages is going mainstream.
In another piece called The Pummeling Pages, Brent describes a recent ‘reading’ experience:
I couldn’t hit the Reader button in Safari fast enough. In fact, I couldn’t hit it at all, so stunned was I by the flickering colorful circus the page presented. It was like angry fruit salad on meth.
I was there because I just wanted to read something. Words. Black text on a white background, more-or-less. And what I saw — at a professional publication, a site with the purpose of giving people something good to read — was just about the farthest thing from readable.
The site has good writing. But the pages do everything possible to convince people not to try. “Don’t bother,” the pages say. “It’s hopeless.
I’ve seen a bunch of people saying something similar recently.
The weird thing is this: On the one hand, web designers seem to work on increasingly large monitors; on the other, the displays used by readers tend to shrink as more people browse the web on notebooks, tablets or smartphones.
The result is a appalling when you try to isolate content directly related to the news. In the series of screenshots below, I selected the first scrolls of pages as they render on my laptop’s 15” display. Then, I overlaid a red mask on everything but the news contents: ads, all sorts of promotions, large white spaces, headers and sections lists are all hidden away.
Here’s a sample:
I can see how this kind of stuff horrifies publishers and advertisers. Who wants to spend all that money and then have some random person Wadsworth up all your work.
Like I say, I’m okay with that.
So, that’s it. That’s what’s been making me excited recently. Thinking about ‘The Wadsworth Constant’ and how it might apply to everything. Like, really, everything. Everything everything.