How many floppy disks do you need to fit an article from The Atlantic?

Pete Davies
Oct 28, 2015 · 2 min read

In case your experience with computers started after 2010, this:

… is a 3.5 inch floppy disk. Standard capacity: 1.44MB.

Today, I tried to read this (really quite good) article from The Atlantic on my iPhone 5S.

First time around I tried in a webview. Next attempt was in Safari. It crashed both of them.

Digging for Dinosaurs in My Twenties is a little over 6,200 words and has four images. Saved in rich text format, the words come to 37KB of data, the four images total 346KB (exactly the same images are served to my desktop browser as are to my phone).

Given all the information so far, guess how many floppy disks it would take to fit an article from The Atlantic?

Answer: at least 15

“No, no,” I hear you grumble, “37 plus 346 equals 383KB which is a little over one quarter of the 1.44MB capacity of a floppy disk.”

Well, of course.

Unless you include all the other crap that comes with the article.

By the time Safari had crashed, I’d logged 21MB of ads, pixels, and associated scripts that had been downloaded onto my phone. If the main idea was to heat my phone so my hand could stay warm against the San Francisco fall, nice job everybody!

Logging the resources used to run an Atlantic article in mobile Safari

If, on the other hand, the idea was that I could read the article, without scrolling being deathly sluggish, and maybe actually make it to the end before it crashed the browser. Yeah, you failed.


The web doesn’t need another diatribe against AdTech and the extraordinary way in which Publishers seemingly every day shoot themselves in the foot.

But seriously… does anybody at The Atlantic read their own content on their own site? On a phone… just the same as an ever-increasing number of users consume content? Or were they too busy checking it in Instant Articles and Apple News to take a look at their own mobile view?

It was literally impossible to get through the article without the browser crashing. Does anybody know if they found a live dinosaur in the end?

Pete Davies

Written by

Building new things @gethudson. Previously @Medium, @Automattic, @BBCNews.

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