Scroll Doom

by: Jake Arminius | Published: November 02, 2022

Urban Definitions

  • A condition imposed upon the sane by keyboard hipsters who gamed their way into making money from snake oil website design while us poor suckers have to scroll, and scroll, and scroll, to read what used to fit in a paragraph which is a nice, refined, proven, grouping of content; tending to be compact and not require endless thumb twitches to bring a sentence or two into view.
  • A conspiracy of those drunk from screaming girl fads to wear out thumb fingerprints and for the stream of consciousness to be constantly broken by the thumb twitch. It is observed that their attention span is equal to the span of time between thumb twitches. In this method of madness is a great secret never told before: they are immune too mind flayer enslavement. Their conspiracy of twisted logic is to keep you safe from mind flayer enslavement.
  • A pathological aversion (as a syndrome), which in the lesser of the less is an inability, to present information without the reader having to hone exceptional finger/thumb motor skills to read anything longer than a burp.

Drunk Injun Piss

Web design now smells as drunk injun piss. A top contender for worst smell a North American can smell. Hundreds of years of printing, thousands of years of writing, decades of digital paper, and the keyboard hipster has yet to take a typography course or apply simple and proven principles. Some went to school. That is where they learnt about margins in a box and everything else went over their heads because it does not fit into a CSS style or would require a serious text editor to type out the mundane and tedious CSS styles (rules) versus real typographic languages which although more powerful also require a steeper learning curve . Back in the day of having electron guns pointed at our heads web design was about finding the brightest, gaudiest, background colour that due to a lack of contrast makes the text unreadable and sears your eyes from the horrific combination of bright colours which had no reasonable consideration of readability. Any monkey with a keyboard and some free time and initiative was publishing on free sites like Angel Fire, Geocities, Yahoo, and the like, while the apes were publishing static pages much like the ones here. Except I know things about typography and colour contrast. Some things. It was a scientific study on why fields such as typography exist. That study is still going on under the name of Scroll Doom.

Everything has improved considerably for the webmaster. From inserting text, to formatting it with CSS+HTML markup languages (or WYSIWYG word processor type tools i.e. Dreamweaver: if it is still around), hardware, hosting, image manipulation, every step of the process has improved. Every tool and service to publish electronically has improved. Except the soft grey matter tool on the neck of keyboard hipsters.

Some Quasi Technical Background

Print typography is a different beast then digital typography. A more finite environment defined by paper size. You have the wider and shorter US Letter compared too European standard A4, the middle between the two mentioned sizes is the Legal paper size. Then there is the plethora of specialist sizes. Either way you pick the size of the paper and a finite outer and inner limit is defined. You now have a box, you decide how much smaller the second box is going to be that fits inside of the parent box and that difference is called a margin. For the serious text geek replace box with region. Of course, real typographic languages like LaTex it is more complex if you want it to be. This is the simplest, crudest, way to explain the document model webpages use. This model is called the DOM which is short for Document Object Model.

Digital typography you have no possible way to know for certain what size the content is going to be accessed on. Or even the device. It may be a search engine spider or other bot where the display size means nil. It may be an archaic Android 4 phone. A high powered workstation connected to half a dozen big high resolution monitors. A toaster with a two line, 8 characters per line, display that could not display this sentence fully. By pattern and audience you can usually make reasonable assumptions. While in print you can know by paper size, font, font size, line spacing, margins, how much will fit and where. Digital there is no assurances. It has to fit in some way with some coherent structure. Webpages "reflow" within their dynamic display box while a PDF is set to the limited paper size and when you zoom in and out, which is only a magnification of a fixed size, the content stays where it was set. On a big, high resolution monitor (and also dependent on browser/OS display settings), this site text becomes small and the text will shrink into unreadable oblivion. Zoom in (Ctrl-+) and it changes again recalculating the size of the content and where the content goes based on the outer limit display box. Snap a web browser to half a screen and then full width again and what you see is what Iam explaining in an oversimplified way. While the same amount of characters are in the same place no matter what in a PDF, changing the window size of a web browser will change how many characters are on a line to suit the view port. What if the reader is using an e-reader? Which model which has what resolution with what screen size? A new adaptation of a new information technology had to be solved.

Scroll Doom, from my observations and experience, is a particular evil from phone hipsters. Those that think an Internet of Things of crippled devices of crippled function is better to work with than a real computer. A network of small, mindless, distractions. Originally a smartphone was a dumb phone stuffed into a PDA. Blackberry got the credit for making a usable and workable product but I doubt they were the first to try. I was installing GNU/Linux on HP PDAs in the early 2000s when working in IT. If anybody complains how "hard" it is to install a GNU/Linux distro (it isn' t hard these days) on an ARM device then they should try it on old pre-Blackberry PDAs! A long and slow process of many steps. These PDAs had wider but shorter dimensions. Like original Blackberries. As touchscreens became more simian proof and usable the hard keyboards disappeared from the devices. Form factors tended to favour the narrow and long over the previous wider and shorter. One reason was to accommodate the desire to use them one handed. Display monitors for desktops and TVs went the other way to wider but shorter. At one time you could read a Letter sized PDF more naturally then you can now as it fit the screen better due to the ratios being used at the time. From a TV standard 4:3 ratio (a ratio close to Letter, Legal, A4, ratios) too 16:9 has gone the computer and film worlds.

It is apparent, unless for ultimately print, that digital text has to change flow and adopt to unknown dimensions. As water flows to the shape of it's vessel until level so must text in the digital environment also form to the vessel dimensions. The typographic wisdom is that the most optimal width for eyes is a 67 character width from left to right. This includes letters, spaces, tabs, grammatical marks. From 67 to 80 you find the old set widths of text editors, terminals, etc. Not more than 80 characters width in source code so it fits on the old terminal screens. Gopher (pre-HTTP "web") was limited to a 67 character width, Emacs is set to 71 or 72 (as I have seen) depending on distribution, it is not worth the time to think of every instance because it was everywhere in everything that displayed text in desktop usage. Naturally as computer monitors became wider people wanted to be able to display things side by side instead of moving the eyes across vast distances just to read some lousy text. Back to where we started with narrow width windows. Back to before where we started as now the shorter height means more scrolling.

Who could have determined that the design overlords would impose their nervous twitches upon us and call it "technology"? Would it not be more comfortable to relax your position and focus on what you are reading without twitching a body part? Even a fast reader has a more twitch free experience with the small standard size of a novel. Two whole pages without flipping, or thumb twitching of the Scroll Doom. It is a delicious art to time a dead tree page turn while engrossed with the reading. Damnit. There I go thinking for myself and wanting to live on my own terms without the bad habits of others. Bad twitch slave.

First Impressions

I have never understood this fascination to spend a life on a small screen on a small crippled device. I understand wasting life in front of a computer. Fully. In full HD and large screen visual delight.

Then I open a webpage to a website. For some reason, or lack of reason, some simian has to make sure I do not miss the title, or logo, of the website. Although it is in the URL bar, window title, and I can find it through clicking gymnastics in a web browser. Good chance is if I visit a site, I already know the name/title of it from a reference that pointed me there in the first fucking place. Boom. One third of my screen real estate is gone because of a butt hurt ego has to be more obvious than Captain Obvious just in case somewhere I missed where Iam. Presumptuous. A third of my screen is now taken up by some cheesy and uncreative, rehashed a million different ways, cheap rip off slogan. Down to half a screen used and nothing is displayed for the reason I came to the site. Content. Good thing not on a phone. That bandwidth wasting background image behind the oversized title, that is larger than ten digitized text only novels in file size, that also has nothing at all to do with the site content which is a constant source of annoyance. Do you think I care you or your designer can rip off a photo from the internet like anybody else? I don' t. How about killing this Scroll Doom design aspect so content instead of stolen images actually loads in a decent time? It does not make you look more professional, it makes you look like a zombie following fashion or cannot afford someone with skill and intelligence. After the first time seeing it, no one pays attention to it. It wastes my time, my energy, and my bandwidth.

Even the zombies that hand out corporate decrees on "design", cough cough Material Design, at some level, know they have it wrong but in typical post-modern syndrome they look in opposite directions to the problem. The decolourization of icons to a monochrome or two/three colour palette is to reduce visual noise. Fair enough. Except this visual noise is not from icons. Never was. Desktop and phone are two different design problems. Touch is a given on a phone or tablet. When on a desktop/laptop it is a given there is a keyboard and mouse/touchpad. For touch you need larger "click" areas and hence why in Android buttons and headers are so big. Useless when using a keyboard/mouse except to aggravate you and gobble up more screen real estate. What is common now from borrowing from Material design (which is from Google while Microsoft has their Fluent design) type drunk injun piss design is the last bit of your precious screen is now swallowed up by a sentence or two massive block. It is typical, mundane, read or heard ten thousand times, some marketing guru idiot does it so I do it type shite, that can be usually skipped but has to be scrolled through because the keyboard hipster is blind, cannot afford glasses, and thinks boxing small chunks of text into massive screen filling blocks is hip. All the cookie cutter bullshite with no useful information has filled my screen. Yet, if the menu is in the top the hamburger button is drastically smaller than the splash part. Huh? Or, what if the menu is on the bottom? If at the bottom I have to scroll several screen fulls of what may be a paragraph in total to actually finally read something close to the reason I came to the site for. One positive is I can never forget the name of the site even if I cannot find what I was looking for...

Imagine it is some blog or news site that will have lots you don' t want to read and lots you do. My image in my head is no clutter, no images or if so thumb nailed so the text is more prominent, a menu to get too top level sections, and in general as much information as possible is displayed while being readable; without moving a muscle so I can with less effort discern what is interesting to me or not. In post-modern drunk injun piss design it will take many more screens of Scroll Doom to read what you can read in one screen on Hellene Sun. If it has any content other than cookie cutter fuckery.

Nothing Becomes Something

Why does a sentence have to take a 1/4 of my screen? Or even a fifth? Oh. Because they have no life. Another useless site filling space, with minimal or no meaningful content. What the lazy and untalented, unskilled, will probably think:

"How do I fill something with nothing to make it appear as if it is filled with something?"
"Ah ha", says the keyboard hipster who has an inspiration:
"I will make the nothing bigger than the something."

To the typical keyboard hipster this makes perfect sense. Or a typical politician. Mortal beings are generally more attached to that which they put physical effort into over more abstract mental effort, isolating the mental/emotional synergy of conditioning and sentimentality. If the simian doesn' t have to thumb twitch to only find out he did a Scroll Doom for nothing he will leave the shitty site quicker. People suspect to this physiological trick are the more visually attuned. Those text attuned tend to not fall for these unconscious tricks as much. A part of the reason for the use of irrelevant oversized useless images. It gives comfort to the visually attuned and keeps their attention longer. This goes back to the attention span between thumb twitches I mentioned earlier.

How do you make the nothing bigger than something in a webpage? Lots of white space, margins the size of an aircraft carrier, put a visible thin border around one of these many inner over sized boxes, make the image bigger than surrounding text and not related to the text, babble lots and say nothing, make everything inside a box which is inside another box until your recursion is so deep the browser heats up the CPU to toaster level heat (<div> in HTML is one of these constructs Iam calling boxes and Iam following conventional terminology), and another sucker follows your doom of endless scrolling. All this is for naught if you actually have something meaningful on your site. Then you have to resort to Rule #1 For Successful Scroll Dooming I have yet to mention:

Never have information that is easy to find without extensive off site searching. Under no circumstances if you have valuable content on the site do you ever expose it on site through the interface.

Mix and match these elements of successful keyboard hipster fuckery for a Scroll Doom 101 website. Remember the path to this success is they never forget your site name because you are the asshole that filled the reader' s screen with it as a first impression!

Ever notice a finite individual page loads faster than those dynamic sites you just scroll down and wait, wait, wait, for the new content to load?

Tags: IT, Internet, JakeArminius

This page may have a talk page?.

Access and use of this site by any means implies consent to the Agreement of Use. © Hellene Sun