I've been thinking about implications of Google's AMP ambitions for web standards, and can't shake the This Is Getting Worse feeling.
So, time for some AMP GAME THEORY.
j/k but seriously here are my thoughts on AMP. 1/?
With the announcement of AMP stories, AMP for email, and just-build-your-whole-site-in-AMP, it's clear that these concerns are being realised.
AMP is now a Google-driven metaplatform that spans the SERPs, web & email.
Google forked the web.
Why? To compete with Facebook. Most of what AMP offers are me-too FB/IG features. Instant Pages, Stories, Carousels...
It's clear G thinks the properties it controls (Google.com, Gmail.com) need feature parity with FB's platforms: FB, IG, Messenger.
Reminds me of ex-Googler Steve Yegge's post: "[Google now] play the dangerous but easier game of using competitor activity as a proxy for what customers really need [...] They are stuck in me-too mode."
Ie: FB has it, customers must want it, we need it.
What does this mean for web standards?
Google is now using the letter of web standards to flagrantly violate the spirit of web standards: using its corporate dominance to achieve its corporate ends.
I'm not sure if AMP started with this intention or not, but it doesn't matter.
We've been here before with the web standards movement (webstandards.org). We have standards bodies for a reason: what's good for one corporation's short term competitive interests isn't necessarily good for the web's long term health.
It's clear that this is a lesson we'll need to re-learn again and again.
But it's worth acknowledging the way Google is hiding its blatant corporate interests behind its tech *and* its engineers is just gross.
This is ingenious because they can enlist their employee's passion for the web as well as *volunteers* to help with the technical implementation of their corporate strategy.
Get it? Volunteers helping implement the Google Web Fork (GWF?) so Google can chase Facebook.
G R O S S
Imagine if Microsoft implemented Microsoft Web Fork in the 90s/00s (they tried). Not ok then, not ok now.
Why? The web wasn't MS's then, & it's not Google's to re-implement now.
Who's looking after ActiveX content? Flash? Java?
AMP is going to be the mess we get to clean up.
Sure, AMP made a sorta-kinda sense when they wanted faster pages on mobile, even if they had to break urls, accessibility, native scrolling to get there (~ugh~).
Problem is, appeals to "The AMP team" seem futile, because the AMP team's domain *is purely technical implementation*.
It's the VP's that are pulling the strings here (presumably Dave Besbris - @tweetbez).
But all we can do is appeal to the engineers involved.
So, @cramforce & @AMPhtml team, you have some of the most lucrative skills on the planet, please reconsider what you’re using them for.
The web isn't yours to remake, and the tools you’re providing your management with are too dangerous for the web you intend to help.
Whatever AMP started as, you’re now riding the bull of corporate self interest in the web standards china shop, and once you’ve moved on to another job & G's corporate goals change, we’re the ones who will be left to clean it up.
Don't be a kinder, gentler Microsoft. Reconsider.
Indeed. Someday @cramforce is going to realize what he's done. And it's going to be too late for him. Because he can't uncheck in code. He'll have created a weapon of mass destruction for the Internet and handed it to a global monopoly. And he's going to have to live with that.
I’m sympathetic to engineers on AMP - make web faster for all! solve hard problems! have an impact! I’m sure it’s fun & rewarding. I also think it *can* be undone because competitive landscape will change just like it did for MS… but they won't be ones to undo it, we will be :(
Thank you for an important thread! Please share the Redirect AMP to HTML extension so people can fight back against this development by not using or linking to AMP pages addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/…
and that's my point: regardless of whether HTTP itself is resilient, or whether proper HTML/CSS/JS are...google are in a position to leverage their market position in search to force AMP through regardless, making it irrelevant whether HTTP/HTML/etc are resilient or not
Eh... I mean AOL, Facebook, etc. successful but you end up dying in your own little corner of the web. I’m not too worried. Well... AMP’s effects on publishers is legit scary but I feel the rest of it will start fast then die down
Surely you see the irony in complaining about a tech giant privatizing the web by… replacing what could be a web page with tweets on a tech company’s platform. Posts will last longer, show up in more searches. Dude we can retweet link tweets even better than threads.
Worse is that the AMP cache and AMP URLs are explicitly breaking the web and rather than admit this they keep trying to add new hacks to get round it.
We already have a way to get alternative versions of a resource it's called content negotiation
If Google were to drop the cache and just push the standard as faster and more mobile friendly users could hit a toggle in their browser and requests would give text/html-amp a higher priority and everyone wins