What if Retina is the best thing that's ever happened to the internet

There’s been a lot of handwringing in the last week about how badly the resources served up for iPad will crush the internet. There’s no doubt that higher resolution screens are going to lead to increasing download sizes of media (movies &c.) 1080 streaming on the Apple TV is going to be nearly as big a culprit. There are going to be a lot of horrific hacks thrown together to retina-tize existing sites.

The one ray of hope in this dark, very high resolution, night, is the dream that people who make websites will take this as motivation to become resolution independent. It is clearly not sustainable to hack/overhaul a site every time someone invents a higher resolution screen. And we have tools to help. Small things that used to be image intensive (rounded corners, drop shadows) can now be done using CSS. SVG is creeping in slowly as a way to have illustrations and logos while retaining resolution independence. The launch of a high profile product that will make many websites look terible should be highly motivating.

It’s clear that we need a “responsive image” solution today. And Mssrs. Jehl and Grigsby have been doing awesome work there. However we’re a ways off from having a real standard. Which means that now is a good time to step back and see just how low we can get our page-sizes on everything but the image elements. That way when we do solve the responsive image problem everything will be amazing.

We know everyone’s looking at our sites over crappy 3g (or office Wi-Fi) connections. We know that all users want is for the site to load quickly. So rather than taking this increase in screen resolution as an opportunity to shove more giant images through the tubes let’s use it as an opportunity to re-evaluate.