If you haven’t heard of Google’s AMP or Facebook’s Instant Articles, you are missing out on what is the next iteration of the Internet.
Using a combination of development guidelines, as well as caching technology, these programs will allow articles and websites to load almost instantly.
That alone is pretty awesome.
What makes it even more awesome is that Automattic has already released plugins for both technologies: AMP WordPress Plugin and Instant Articles for WP. Anyone with a WordPress site can start taking advantage of this technology today.
But I want to discuss something I’ve only seen mentioned here and there in the WordPress community.
The fact that this technology, coupled with WordPress, will make publishing content for the developing world much easier. Thereby bringing the developing world online.
The Internet In The Developing World
Back in February, I was at DeveloperWeek 2016 and stopped in on a talk by Tal Oppenheimer, a product manager on the Chrome team.
Her talk was called “Developing for Billions” and discussed the challenges and opportunities faced when building for people in developing nations.
Before the talk, I had heard stats about low Internet usage in developing nations. But I didn’t know that over half the world’s population doesn’t use the Internet.
As Oppenheimer discussed in her talk, and as I later learned, there are two main reasons for this:
- Internet coverage in developing nations can be spotty due to a weak infrastructure
- And Internet data is expensive
Here in the US, I hear friends complaining about 4G Internet speeds. In many developing nations, they may only have 2G speeds. And to get access to even just that, it is not cheap.
As Nathan Eagle explains in his TechCrunch article, someone in India “making minimum wage would need to work 17 hours just to afford a 500MB mobile data plan; it can cost up to three hours of work to pay for just a single hour of connectivity.”
Oppenheimer explained that, when the Internet is so expensive and so slow, no one wants to load a website that uses a lot of data.
Sadly, most websites are built for nations that have fast, cheap Internet. Think of websites with large images and media, and fancy animations and effects.
In developing nations, they literally can’t afford to load these sites. Luckily, there are initiatives in place to solve these problems.
Bringing Internet To Developing Nations
There are two sides to the initiative to bring the Internet worldwide.
On one side, you have initiatives like Internet.org, with the goal of making the Internet either free or inexpensive in developing nations. On the other, you have AMP and Instant Articles. These work on making web pages load faster by making them smaller and more efficient.
So when someone in a developing nation is running 2G speeds and can only afford 500mb of data, they are able to load articles without waiting a long time and without running through their data quota.
Now, how does WordPress play into all of this?
WordPress In Developing Nations
One of the reasons WordPress is so popular is its community — people building plugins, themes, and contributing to core. An entire ecosystem has risen around WordPress.
Included in that is a move to translate WordPress into every language. At the time of this writing, WordPress has been 100 percent translated into 60 different languages, with many getting closer to the 100 percent mark.
For someone in a developing nation who would like to begin a blog, they can get started for free on WordPress.com, or for very cheaply with open sourced WordPress, already translated for them to use.
With the addition of AMP and Instant Articles plugins made by Automattic, a blogger in a developing nation can now make their site available to an audience who may not have visited the site before.
The same holds true for content producers in the US and other developed nations.
They can build a more extensive website for audiences in developed nations, and provide a version built with AMP or Instant Articles to audiences in developing nations which they couldn’t reach before. Just by installing a plugin.
What Do You Think?
How do you think AMP and Instant Articles will affect WordPress, the Internet, and developing nations? Share your comments below.
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