Monday, June 29
The ease and dependability of today’s Internet makes it easy to forget that it takes a complicated backbone of wiring and cables that makes the whole thing run. This backbone is expensive to build and maintain, and like any complex infrastructure, things sometimes go wrong—such as, say, cables being severed accidentally during construction.
So how do we make the Internet “crash-proof”? Is it even possible? NewScientist has an interesting article on the problem, and finds that while cables will always be vulnerable, focusing on routers may actually make a “crash-proof” Internet a reality.
For seven months, New York Times reporter David Rohde was help captive by the Taliban in Afghanistan. During that time, the paper worked hard to keep news of the kidnapping off of front pages. But while other media outlets obliged the request, the paper faced a formidable opponent in Wikipedia, the user-generated online encyclopedia.
Now that David Rohde has escaped the Taliban, the Times has a fascinating account of their struggle to keep news of his kidnapping off the Internet:
A dozen times, user-editors posted word of the kidnapping on Wikipedia’s page on Mr. Rohde, only to have it erased. Several times the page was frozen, preventing further editing — a convoluted game of cat-and-mouse that clearly angered the people who were trying to spread the information of the kidnapping.
Even so, details of his capture cropped up time and again, however briefly, showing how difficult it is to keep anything off the Internet — even a sentence or two about a person who is not especially famous.
As the traditional journalism model continues to crumble, new means for dispensing information continue to expand. Enter YouTube, which has already seen a significant jump in uploaded videos following the release of the latest video-capable iPhone, and has now started an initiative to train “citizen journalists” on how to better report the news. From the YouTube blog:
The YouTube Reporters’ Center... features some of the nation’s top journalists sharing instructional videos with tips and advice for better reporting. Learn how to prepare for an interview from CBS News’ Katie Couric; how to be an investigative reporter from the legendary Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward, or why it’s important for citizens to participate in the news-gathering process from Arianna Huffington. And definitely don’t miss out on New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof’s video on how to report from a crisis area without getting shot.
Between 2000 and 2008, residential broadband subscribers grew to 80 million from 5 million. Adding to this expansion of connected households was a substantial increase in the quality, robustness, and speed of the broadband connections themselves.
Swanson, Bret. “Bandwidth Boom: Measuring U.S. Communications Capacity from 2000 to 2008.” Entropy Economics, June 24, 2009.
More facts on broadband adoption.
Friday, June 26
When news broke yesterday of music legend Michael Jackson’s death, social networking sites exploded with updates. How big was the explosion? The LA Times reports:
As the news of Michael Jackson’s fate unfolded, sites around the Web felt the strain of spiking interest.
On Twitter, the volume of Jackson-related messages – up to 5,000 per minute at peak – put such a demand on the site that it slowed considerably.
Facebook also saw a major jump—to the tune of triple the number of usual “status updates” in the hours after Jackson’s death.
Via Network World comes news that Cisco has saved an impressive $277 million by allowing employees to work at home with virtual office technology:
Not only does Cisco’s telecommuting technology help the company save on collaboration technologies, but also the company’s telework program makes employees happy, survey results show. Cisco based its productivity savings on the number of billed hours at an average of $91 per hour, with the total figure reaching about $277 million. In addition, the vendor estimated employees garnered fuel cost savings exceeding $10 million per year.
Yet cost savings was not the primary goal of the survey, Cisco executives say.
More information on the benefits of telecommuting—from cost savings to helping the environment—can be found in IIA’s Broadband Fact Book.
Last week Apple released the newest version of its popular iPhone. Included in the new hardware is the ability to upload videos from the phone directly to YouTube. The result? A staggering 400% jump in uploads to the site.
In other words, this whole mobile video thing might just catch on.
Having originally set the deadline of July 7, the FCC has extended the window for commenting on its national broadband plan until July 21.
You can weigh in yourself at the commission’s website.
The FCC finally has a chief, as yesterday the Senate confirmed President Obama’s pick of Julius Genachowski.
Robert McDowell, the republican pick, was also confirmed—his second stint with the commission.
Thursday, June 25
Last month, the Obama administration announced it was creating a national “Cyber Czar” to oversee efforts to fight cyber attacks. Now the United Kingdom is following suit, creating a new Office of Cyber Security. Reports ZDNet:
The Office of Cyber Security (OCS), dedicated to protecting Britain’s IT infrastructure, will be created in line with a model proposed — and in part practised by — the US, the Cabinet Office said on Thursday. The OCS will have charge of a cross-government programme of work, while a multi-agency Cyber Security Operations Centre (CSOC), based at GCHQ in Cheltenham, will coordinate the protection of critical IT systems.
As well as cyber-defence and cyberattack coordination, the OCS will act as a conduit for information security collaboration between government and industry experts.