Building a Better World – A Lesson on Waste and Human Nature from the Internet
Posted by Plish on June 2, 2010
Humans have a tendency to see to immense resources as inexhaustible…
Until they get close to exhaustion.
Water, our air, petroleum products, various plants and animals. They’re all examples of resources humans use and use, often not being aware of the consequences until it’s too late.
So, I decided to check and see if another immense and inexhaustible resource was being misused by people.
And, it is.
While writing a post for this blog a couple days ago I noticed that one image I downloaded from the web was surprisingly large. So, for kicks I decided to see if I could keep it the same quality but reduce the file size. I didn’t do any tweaking of contrast or brightness. Here are the results:
I was shocked. The file was almost twice the size as what was needed. Sure it’s not perfect but it still looks pretty good. I would venture to say that if you didn’t have the other one next to it you wouldn’t even know. But, is this a pattern on the internet? I went over to 5 other sites, and downloaded a few more pictures from them to see if this is a prevalent problem. Below are two of the more glaring examples.
I simply saved the files at a lower jpg quality. I didn’t take any time at all to tweak the contrast or brightness.
What this shows me is that if the people building the webpage simply took a little more time, they could have reduced bandwidth used by the pictures by 50% or more. (The other sites had comparable waste in the range of 30%-50%)
One of the sites I checked did have a file that was reduced as much as reasonable. It’s shown here:
I wasn’t able to get this one down any further without noticable deterioration.
So, what’s the lesson?
We all know that human nature takes the easy way out if possible. I’m sure that the designers of the above web pages used criteria such as: If a page loads within x seconds over ABC data lines, then it’s acceptable.
They met their requirements.
But, what they didn’t do was see if they could push the envelope, be examples of social responsibility, bring down their bandwidth load just because they could. They didn’t try to do more than just meet requirements, and be more than just designers.
Therein lies the challenge to all of us when we design our daily lives.
Do we simply do what’s expected and what everyone does, using more water, electricity, food, and gas than we need to??
Or do we rise to the challenge and see ourselves as more than just consumers, more than just users of resources and see ourselves as powerful contributors to the common good?
This entry was posted on June 2, 2010 at 2:19 pm and is filed under Best Practices, culture of innovation, Design, design thinking, innovation, problem solving, Social Responsibility, Sustainable Technology, The Human Person. Tagged: Design, design thinking, green design, human nature, innovation, internet, resource management, social responsibility, sustainability, sustainable design, waste. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.