Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Hurricane Sandy Proved How Hard It Is to Break the Internet

All the damage to the communications infrastructure brought on by Hurricane Sandy is sure giving the people who keep track of the technical underpinnings of the Internet a lot of fodder to see how well things do and don’t work in real-world situations.

The folks at Renesys, the market research firm that keeps constant tabs on the health and operations of the Internet, watched networks in and around New York fail in real time as the hurricane swept across the region.

You’ll remember that the fundamental design principle of the Internet is that it routes traffic around failure automatically — supposedly, the legend goes, to enable it to keep running after a nuclear war. Well, the folks at Renesys watched that happen in real time, too. In its latest corporate blog post, it shows via a handful of colorful graphics how the traffic that would normally have run through New York took a different route, say from Paris to Washington D.C., or via Dallas to Palo Alto to get to India.

So what does it all prove? That the people who keep the Internet running do a pretty good job of it, even when a critical hub like New York takes on a lot of water.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work