Thrift, Elegance and Economy

In (yet another) design pattern to fix the mobile web, Google proposes PRPL, writing, in part:

At the same time, the bulk of our computing has moved from powerful desktop machines with fast, reliable network connections to relatively underpowered mobile devices with connections that are often slow, flaky or both. This is especially true in parts of the world where the next billion users are coming online.

One of the benefits of having been around for Web 0.0 is that I recall the last time this statement was true: “relatively underpowered devices with connections that are often slow, flaky or both” is what the Internet was in 1990.

We know how to build for these conditions because we’ve already done it.

The essential character of this Internet assumes a flaky network; it’s baked right into the technical DNA. Perhaps we need to focus less on figuring out how to cache and optimize the cruft and gloss we’ve introduced in the intervening years, and recapture the value of thrift, elegance and economy.