Google AMP -- a better internet, or another nail in the coffin of the open web?

I've started to see a few "amp" links pop up in posts, and when I expressed my opposition to them, @drummerboy suggested I start a thread explaining a bit more.

AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages. It's a google initiative, the premise is that if you code your pages according to a specific standard, and include a provided javascript link, Google says your pages will load faster.

This is mostly true. In part its because the standards you have to follow mean a smaller page weight (as in, less bytes, and so less data over the network). In part its also because Google can then serve your pages directly from their own servers.

There's two criticisms of this, which I share. In the first place, a lot of people are uncomfortable with a powerful private company laying out its own set of standards for building web pages. We already have public, open standards, and Google's move here to shift people to their own standards undermines this. Having to include their javascript is even worse (arguably, no worse than what sites already do with ad networks and analytics -- which many AMP critics will agree with and be happy to give you an earful of criticism of these as well).

The second part -- the hosting of content on Google's own servers -- is even more worrisome.

Here's a regular link:

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/12/us/politics/nevada-caucus-2020-culinary-union.html

And here's the AMP version:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nytimes.com/2019/12/12/us/politics/nevada-caucus-2020-culinary-union.amp.html

Notice how the second is served not from NYT, but from Google. The idea of such a powerful private company using its weight to, shall we say "suggest" people change their websites to align with Google-preferred standards, and then for Google to then take advantage of that to redirect web traffic through their own servers, so futher increasing their leverage over the overall web, raises concerns.

Some links:

The AMP site: https://amp.dev/

A criticism of AMP I largely agree with: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/05/19/open_source_insider_google_amp_bad_bad_bad/ (I have no idea what kind of out The Register is -- I've read this particular article and liked it but can't say I know this publication outside of this)

A bunch of threads discussion AMP on Hacker News, for those wanting to dive really far into the whole controversy: https://hn.algolia.com/?q=Google+AMP


Thanks for starting the thread. I have some reading to do before I can comment,


I didn't understand much of what PVW posted but when I clicked on the AMP link I saw ads for used cars and earlier today I was looking at a website for used cars.

 


Yeah, that's not a function of AMP so much as it is the pervasiveness of tracking cookies which keep track of your browsing activity. I think AMP just makes it more efficient/easier (for Google anyway) to track what you do, but they can do it without AMP.




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