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CH I Add 3-25 Seconds of Latency to Every Site I Visit

There’s a sort of breathless industry-specific fact in software that goes around every so often.

Revenue, and the underlying source of revenue, in the consumer web, whether impressions or sales, tracks remarkably closely to lower latency. This is from avoiding bounces, making conversion better, etc.

Here are some articles saying this breathlessly:

Amazon Found Every 100ms of Latency Cost them 1% in Sales

Find out how you stack up to new industry benchmarks for mobile page speed

How Loading Time Affects Your Bottom Line

But if folks make more money off of customers when they reduce latency, there has to be some power in increasing latency.

I actually found something some months ago. It stems from my own usage of the consumer web.

Nearly everyone who writes software uses the consumer web, often to excess.

I, as a bonafide computer toucher, am no exception.

In fact, I use the web to ridiculous excess. There are 24-hour periods of my life where I was using that consumer web for 24 hours (my coworker asked, “weren’t you worried about blood clots?” – you walk around).

But addiction is really the converse of bouncing from a site.

So if you can inject latency into sites artificially, you can reduce the actual impact of the addiction in a controllable way while not denying the enjoyment of the Internet to yourself.

Hacker News with 100ms latency feels like liquor: Hacker News with 9000ms latency feels like small beer.

Reddit with 150ms latency feels like cocaine: Reddit with 8000ms latency feels like coffee.

Blocking tends towards the inducement of psychological reactance.

This just feels like a beneficial dilution of the Internet. It feels like wine to the ancient Greeks, who drank wine but attacked the practice of drinking undiluted wine as tantamount to barbarism.

Doing It

You get the web from 2 basic kinds of nightmare rectangle: laptops and desktops, where you control a material portion of the computing environment, or mobile and tablets, where you control less.

Your best bet for a web browser in a laptop or desktop is Crackbook Revival. It has a fully configurable site list and has an option for linearly increasing the amount of latency upon more viewing.

For the other applications in the laptop or desktop, turn on Charles Proxy, and use its throttling functionality. Instead of its intended purpose as developer tools, you can just turn it on permanently.

On iOS, turn on the developer mode and then turn on the network link conditioner permanently.

Android is the hardest to do this in. Either turn on Charles Proxy on a proxy that the Android connection goes through (only possible over wifi), or tether to an entire different iphone which has the network link conditioner on.

Other possible dilutions

If it has been put on websites by some folks like me, and seems like an inducement to get you to do things on the Web, it is probably amenable to blocking, latency reduction, or some other sort of mutilation that will allow you to resume being a normal human being in some way.

I am very far along this sort of cult of mutilation. You don’t have to follow me, but here is what I do.

I have:

  • Deleted all variable pictures from YouTube with my adblock. The avatars of the people, the teaser images with people making obnoxious faces on them, the logo, etc.
  • Not even considered the possibility of browsing the web without adblock anymore (the good stuff, too)
  • Used an extension to remove all the comments from Youtube
  • Coerced old-style on Reddit without an infinite scroll
  • Withdrawn mostly from Reddit in favor of early 2000’s style forums that I pay money for and HN
  • Deleted Facebook with especial, complicated and sophisticated prejudice which I will not detail here

It is true I have watered down my perception of the Internet. I have watered down the Internet because nowadays it only seems to come in 151 proof.

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