Sunday, September 10, 2017

Irma's silver lining: text is suddenly cool again

In Gopherspace (proxy link if your browser doesn't support it), plain text with low bandwidth was always cool and that's how we underground denizens roll. But as our thoughts and prayers go to the residents of the Caribbean and Florida peninsula being lashed by Hurricane Irma, our obey your media thought overlords newspapers and websites are suddenly realizing that when the crap hits the oscillating storm system, low-bandwidth text is still a pretty good idea.

Introducing text-only CNN. Yes, it's really from CNN. Yes, they really did it. It loads lickety-split in any browser, including TenFourFox and Classilla. And if you're hunkered down in the storm cellar and the radio's playing static and all you can get is an iffy 2G signal from some half-damaged cell tower miles away, this might be your best bet to stay current.

Not to be outdone, there's a Thin National Public Radio site too, though it only seems to have quick summaries instead of full articles.

I hope CNN keeps this running after Irma has passed because we really do need less crap overhead on the web, and in any disaster where communications are impacted, low-bandwidth solutions are the best way to communicate the most information to the most people. Meanwhile, please donate to the American Red Cross and the Salvation Army (or your relief charity of choice) to help the victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma today.


  1. It really drives home just how awful the Internet has gotten due to advertising payloads and how the amount of news content that is delivered is actually very, very sparse. No wonder no one knows anything!

  2. Meanwhile, the National Weather Service is getting rid of text:

  3. For the CNN site, I wouldn't mind one small (160px max?) thumbnail to accompany the title. But I'll be damned if that isn't super-freaking-fast to load and display completely!

  4. I totally agree, the net was essentially established for sharing information, these days it's more about how things look instead of the information; even with the comeback of lightweight stylesheets, we still see the bulk of media prominent causing long wait times.


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