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How Stable is the Internet/Web?

It’s a concern that we are depending so much on the web for everything. Is it stable, enough? Can it ever be?
It’s a valid concern. What if paper disappeared or declined to a smaller market share? Would we still have freedom of access, reading, news, press, speech on a timely basis? What if the long distance network, TV and media feeds, or digital conversations were down or intermitent? Could our econopmy and culture survive undamaged? These are questions worth asking and developments worth considering. I’m not a the-sky-is-falling type. I just think we need to think about the consequences of being too dependent on modality. For example we don’t have enough horses right now if the gas runs out!
Anyway, it’s was gratifying that the following somewhat unintentional stress tests of the past few months made it through:
1. Despite predictions to the contrary the cel phone network in DC did not go down from overload yesterday on the Mall. The strain of phone calls, text messaging, picture sharing and posting, and other smartphone usage kept going. (NYT)
2. The entire event in DC was streamed over the Internet and many folks watched it there (while at work too I’ll bet!). That mostly worked for me too. Just one provider, Akamai, reported over 7,000,000 simultaneous streams at 12:15 pm ET.
3. On the ‘just news’ front “Akamai, which helps many media companies keep up with visitor demand on their Web sites, noted a 54 percent spike in worldwide Internet traffic tied to people hunting down news online. The number jumped to 60 percent in North America, with traffic peaking as Mr. Obama‚Äôs speech began.” Tuesday was the 5th highest global Internet load since they started keeping stats.
4. Facebook and Twitter had an enormous number of presence updates – hundreds of thousands.
5. The inauguration resulted in a very high number of video streams – the most in the history of Akamai. The previous test was the Olympics where I’ve read that globally more people watched the Olympics last year on the web than on TV.
So it was up and down in terms of broadband performance but not a big disaster. The tools are being developed and many of the back room service companies supporting multimedia and SaaS are set to grow.

Posted on: January 21, 2009, 8:29 am Category: Uncategorized

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