Being a web techie today means being bombarded with new information. Technology is moving at a ridiculous pace, and just staying up to speed is probably a full time job.

This challenge also applies specifically to the world of web performance. In the last 2-3 years, we’ve seen dozens of new browser capabilities, a myriad of new HTML5 tags, reworks of internet building stones such as HTTP & TCP, brand new image formats, a new responsive approach to mobile websites… The pace is staggering.

The solution to this is clearly not to reduce the pace – heck, we probably want to go even faster! What we need is to find new ways of learning what’s going on – and that’s what this post is about.

Today we’re launching a new series of web technology videos. Each video deals with a different web performance related topic, ranging from concepts to key technologies to specific optimizations. The videos are a bit different than most you’d find on these topics, as explained below.

The Guidelines

First of all, to keep the videos consumable, we insisted on keeping them short. Practically all videos are under 10 minutes, forcing the presenter to include only the gist of each topic. Note that this means the videos keep things simple, and may make statements without giving all the caveats and exceptions… I apologize in advance for any W3C spec authors hurt during the watching of these videos.

Second, the videos use whiteboard animation. The animations help explain concepts visually, but a big part of their role is to simply be, well, fun! Any experienced presenter knows that for a presentation to be good, your audience must also be entertained. Without entertainment value, even disciplined and well intentioned viewers are likely to lose focus.

Lastly, the videos assume little prior knowledge, and do not expect all viewers to be deeply technical. Many of them use “real world” analogies for concepts, aiming to make it easier to communicate the concept or value of the current topic. I feel the web performance world suffers from a significant “echo chamber” effect, where we spend too much time preaching to the choir, but don’t reach the broader masses. These videos aim to help broaden the circle.

These are only guidelines, and various videos veer off them in one way or another, but hopefully these guidelines help you understand the concept.

Getting the Videos

A new video will be released roughly once a week, posted on this dedicated Akamai Blog tag: https://blogs.akamai.com/web-technologies-podcast/. You can check in to the blog every week to see what’s new, or you can register to the RSS Feed. As the name implies, we intend to also add a proper podcast (show up in the iTunes store and all) soon.

Note that my statement below about launching the series today was not entirely accurate… We were actually impatient and released a few videos in the last couple of weeks. So far we’ve released videos about Situational Performance, EdgeStart, Image Compression and – most recently – How Browsers Work.

Show Me the Videos Already!

Ok, so I managed to write a fair bit of text to describe videos, which are a whole different medium… Let’s switch to an example.

Here’s me, explaining Image Compression:

Hey – he said Akamai!

Yes, I did. While Akamai is often only mentioned as an example (if at all), some videos focus much more on explaining an Akamai capability and how it addresses a certain performance problem. They never pitch Akamai product but may explain how Akamai technology works.

Still, even the most “Akamized” videos explain a real performance issue and offer a real way to solve it, and so have educational value well beyond Akamai. In general, I would argue knowing what players in the web performance industry are doing is a great way to learn about the overall problems and solutions. All that said, if the mention of a vendor gives you the hibbie jibbies, this might not be the series for you.

Summary

I’m pretty excited about this video series. Our team put a lot of effort into trying to explain pretty complicated topics in a short and fun way, and I’m really happy with how they turned out.

I encourage you to watch them regularly, and hope you find them useful. Please let us know your thoughts by commenting on the blog posts, via Twitter (@Akamai or @guypod), or in other way. And of course, let us know which topics you’d like to see next – we’ve already produced a whole bunch, but we’re already starting to prepare batch 2!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Guy Podjarny

Guy Podjarny is a Web Performance expert, focusing primarily on Front-End Optimization and Mobile Web Performance. Guy his a frequent speaker at performance and mobile related conferences, and posts his opinions and research on his blog.

Guy is the CTO of the Web Experience Business Unit in Akamai. Prior to that, Guy was the CTO and co-founder of Blaze.io (later acquired by Akamai), and spent a decade working on Web Application Security.