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Posts Tagged ‘the Internet’

The Internet is no internet without google

December 22, 2011 Leave a comment

Earlier today something went wrong with google in Russia. I’ve no idea what it was, it’s just that for maybe about an hour google and all its services first slowed down to a crawl and then went down completely for maybe 15-30 minutes. Entering google.com in the browser and hitting enter would give you an error message and pinging 8.8.8.8 or 8.8.4.4 would result in one request timed out after another.  I assume it must have been some technical glitch, or possibly the FSB trialling a new firewall and as is the custom with them, failing miserably.

So left without google I felt like I was marooned in a sea of information without rhyme or reason. I went to yahoo and then bing but to my total horror, neither of them allow you to limit your search to content that’s been updated in the last 24 hours, in the last day etc, a feature that’s been part of google for yonks.  It was a harsh reminder of why all the other engines still suck next to google. Even yandex, the Russian ‘yet another index’ that some people prefer for searches in the Russian internet as it supposedly does a better job of finding all possible inflected forms of Russian word, doesn’t seem to have this extremely useful feature and it sucks.

It’s kind of weird but I still have vague memories of the Internet without google. Back in the day everybody was using altavista.com and when I saw google for the first time I was unimpressed. It looked kind of spartan, just a search box. It’s definitely gone a long way from those humble beginnings. Just how much of an integral part of the Internet it has become over the years was made very clear to me today as all of a sudden I couldn’t access it. It felt as if the Internet just stopped making sense, I was lost, totally without direction.  That’s what the power of habit can reduce us to.

At the same time it makes me wonder what the Internet will be like in the future, post-google. After all it’s only a matter of time before google gets overtaken and left in the dust by some other technology.

Categories: IT Tags: , ,

When online services go offline

September 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Software as a service is a great idea but what happens if an online service, or even just a website, that you’ve come to depend on over time suddenly goes offline – there is a first time for everything. For instance, there’s an oxford collocations dictionary online website that I have pretty much come to depend on in my writing/translating work and a couple of times over the past two months it has gone offline for no apparent reason. Both times it was down for only a day or two but still I was forced to install a local version even though, the local PC version is rather sluggish and works slower than the website. (That’s probably because my laptop is usually running a whole bunch of apps and processes and is probably nowhere near as powerful as the server or even servers that run the online app).

There is another website that I’ve come to enjoy that’s been down the past few days and it’s been quite disheartening. When a website or an online service is there, after a while you come to take it for granted and then when it suddenly goes away one day it feels personal, it feels like they’ve pulled the plug on you rather than on their services because you’ve come to depend on it so much that it felt like it was part of you and now it’s gone. Well bummer.

If there is just one good thing about locally installed applications that store all their data on your hard drive that’s probably the fact that they never go offline unless you wreck your OS or your computer is destroyed.

It’s an interesting philosophical question, actually, why is it that we always feel better after we’ve passed on the responsibility for taking care of our own shit (computer data in this case) to someone else, someone in the cloud. It’s as if we’ve got this innate belief that other people are bound to be better than us at doing this job, but why on earth do we assume that?

the demise of the global village

I will probably never understand why people seem to take so much pleasure in drawing borders where there were once none.

In technology today things are changing very fast. I’m not really all that old yet but I can still remember the time when the Internet was global in the sense that it didn’t matter where you were accessing a resource from, you’d still be getting the exact same information. Back in the ‘olden days’ I was so enamored of that ‘global village’ idea I didn’t even notice when things started changing.

I believe that the first time it was brought home for me loud and clear that the global village might be going down the drain was back in 03 (or was it 04) when I was visiting my relatives in West Ukraine and wanted to look up the roaming rates of my mobile operator on their website. I went to a local Internet cafe, since back then my Ukrainian relatives did not eve have a computer, but to my total dismay each time I tried to load my mobile operator’s website, it loaded the website of their Ukrainian branch instead. I remember that I eventually figure out a way around this region-based redirect and got through to my mobile operator’s website but still the whole experience seemed totally wrong to me. What’s the use of the Internet if I can’t access a website I want from anywhere in the world?

Unfortunately since then things have been going from bad to worse. This abandonment of global values has been especially awful in the corporate world. The websites of various commercial news outlets, TV companies and the like offer lots of content that can only be accessed from within the US or the UK or whatever regional market they happen to be targeting. It’s the f..cking DVD region codes all over again. As one sitcom character from the 1990’s would have said, ‘This sucks, this is total BS’

It would appear that the corporate types have totally missed the entire point of the Internet. The whole idea behind the technology was to make information globally accessible to facilitate cooperation and creativity and I believe that at its core this idea doesn’t really run counter to market economy. If anything the globalization capability offered by the Interent on the one hand makes the market place more competitive, which in theory should lead to better products, but on the other hand allows companies with niche market offerings to make a killing by targeting niche markets all over the world.

I was also wondering if there are any legal repercussions to refusing to sell stuff to people because of where they happen to be accessing your website from. It’s one thing if you simply can’t send things there but what if all the infrastructure is in place (and for most places it is in place, services like DHL can deliver things wherever) but you still say, sorry, you’re in eastern Europe so you can’t buy anything from us.

Well, whatever the case might be regarding all those legal issues, the fact remains that the global village as people envisaged it in the early naughties seems to have been divided up and segmented into tiny little localized sub-villages with all sorts of restrictions on what kind of information can be passed from one to another, and I personally think it’s a rather sad development – yet another dream of humanity has been crushed or is in the process of being crushed.