Demonstrating that Aristotle’s assertion “Nature abhors a vacuum” applies even to online resources, a recent report from WebSiteOptimization.com illustrates how Web 2.0 has created enough content and interactions to begin to fill the capacity generated by broadband access.
Yet, broadband users have more than kept pace, with response times dropping over the 2003-2008 timeframe of the report. Essentially, with fatter pages and more widgets being loaded, dial-up users have been left behind in the Web 2.0 world.
The size of the average Web page tripled in the 5 years covered. PNG files are more common for artwork, hot on the heels of JPGs and GIFs. More people are watching videos, and the videos are longer. The use of CSS has also increased.
The main architectural concern seems to be the overhead of loading disparate objects (ala, iGoogle and the widgets loading, but more bandwidth-intensive). The summary of the report states:
Within the last five years . . . the number of external objects has nearly doubled. . . . With the average web page sporting more than 50 external objects, object overhead now dominates most web page delays.
An analog to Moore’s Law exists for bandwidth. Developed by Jakob Nielsen, it is called Nielsen’s Law, and asserts that bandwidth increases by 50% per year, or doubles every 21 months, making it slower than Moore’s Law, with the implication that the Web will remain a captive of bandwidth constraints.
But this report drops a heavy hint that Nielsen’s Law may be incorrect (more of a guideline, really). Others have proposed a faster growth rate for bandwidth. Experience seems to favor this faster rate of growth in bandwidth and access.