27.4.09

Side-effects

It's a given that in dire economic straits, crime (especially petty crime) increases. And so it has been proved.

But there are other more obvious-in-hindsight trends that are emerging, such as the increased levels of pets being abandoned.

And then there's this story, which predicts that we can expect more lag over the Net in the next few years. Ok, it's not directly linked, and it's primarily it's a case of increased demand and middling-antiquated infrastructure. However, it's worth considering if the demand hasn't spiked right about now because people are spending more time at home, either because it's too expensive to eat/party out, or because they've got more free time from their jobs, or because it's cheaper to shop online than going to a store.

It's also interesting to contemplate just how this problem will be tackled. It's probably safe to assume that people will turn more to the Net as the technology gets more advanced. But somewhere down the line, the increased demand for all this - memory-hungry online-streaming videos and music, shopping portals that rely on flash-heavy advertisements to survive, social networking sites that encourage people to add more photos and videos, blogs that encourage more people to churn out more matter that uses up more data - will begin to hurt. Noticeably.

And how will we react? The only remote hope of a voice of reason being heard will be if there are independent volunteer bodies that work towards getting people to reduce their Net usage (nobody's going to listen to the government). But even then, how many will be willing to give up what will have become an essential part of their lives, just on the say-so of somebody else - even if that person makes sense? How many will have the inclination and the willpower to sacrifice putting up blogposts, or downloading more than a certain number of songs, or even stop just surfing all the time? How many of us will even remember what it means to actually phone someone and email someone, instead of putting up quick post-it notes on their Facebook page?

How much will you be willing to give up?

11 comments:

km said...

instead of putting up quick post-it notes on their Facebook page?That's a hypothetical question to me, as I do not have a Facebook page. But what IS with people who can't live without their Facebook page?

//Just leave my YT videos alone.

litterateuse said...

It's hard to give up the daily desiderata. So I do the next best thing. I avoid getting into what could potentially become desiderata. But yes, when push comes to the cliched shove, we'll all do what we have to. Like waking up 10 mins before the bus leaves.

g

PS: YT videos - don't they ruin a favorite song for you? If I must listen, I minimize the window.

The Bride said...

An interesting thought but I'm not fully convinced. The nature of technology is that it seems to be adapt to greater usage. So people use the telephone, for example, more not less and technology has been able to cope. People use email more not less, and email inbox storage space has got larger even as more people start using the Internet. Maybe the nature of the Internet, being virtual, allows for this - although there has to be a server sitting somehere where everything is ultimately stored... but maybe technology makes possible the compression of data which wasn't possible before. So while there will be glitches as people come on board, technology will ultimately find ways to cope.

brinda said...

Adding to what The Bride said, the "brown-outs" are likely to happen in the process of technology being updated and upgraded to meet the extra demand.

And a virtual handshake to km for being the only other person in the wired world without a Facebook page :-)

??! said...

KM:
Yah, we know. And we don't know.

Your YT is causing half the problem.

litty:
True. But there'll be people trying to use the Net, hoping that since others may be using it less, they'll get better service. And the cycle will continue.

The Bride:
It's not just a matter of capacity. That can be solved by adding more servers (although there's also the issue of the space needed for such servers). It's about whether the infrastructure will be able to cope up with the surge in demand. And it doesn't seem like it immediately will.

For instance, even in the UK, except for a couple of companies who lay cables (only) in some parts of the country, all the main providers use the national telephone lines. Problem. Upgrading this requires investment, which is tough in the current climate. Problem. Plus, the BBC and the like offer their shows online free of cost, so everybody's watching and rewatching them. Problem.

brin:
Form a club, you two. And you could even blog about it.

Shyam said...

Things I would give up: My blog(s). Facebook. YouTube. Maybe even emails.

But purleeeeeese dont stop me surfing! What would I DO at work???

brinda said...

yes, upgrading tech is an issue, and when service providers increase
prices
so that they can upgrade tech etc (or so they said) users rebel

Mystique said...

FB is for people who don't live in the same city as I do.

Shefaly said...

??!

1. Read the Digital Britain report; if you disagree come to the Digital Britain London unconference on May 6 ( http://bit.ly/L6JYu) so specific feedback can go back into the policy making process re digital web access coverage and inclusion agenda.

2. Towards the end of your post I was confused. What are you worried about - the provisioning of bandwidth en general, or the last mile problem? If the former, well if there is business logic, companies will finance the bandwidth. One could argue about the business logic etc but the costs of storage and bandwidth are quite cheap and what is to say others won't get in on the provisioning act? Telecom markets are liberalised and have benefitted tremendously from the liberalisation. The last mile problem seems un-scalable because of the presumption you make that most use - and will continue to use - tethered access. The experience of developing countries is instructive in this regard. People skip entire generations of tech. In India, e.g. much web access is wireless. And the trend is of growth in wireless web access in the UK too. So that should handle the last mile problem. And as the BRICS nations get in on the act, the international fibre optic infrastructure to carry data of various kinds will also improve because their economies also depend on it.

As for what I may give up: Have you seen my blogging frequency of late? I also switched off from Twitter for days and found it hard to get back in. Everything is dispensable - we just have to try hard :-)

??! said...

Shefaly:
Interesting points there. I agree that it'll be interesting to see how capacities and speeds hold up back home, but so far they seem too nascent to compare (Oh and since you're a Twitterer(Twitteree?), you might be interested in this little experiment).

I think the problem may still be that providers may have underestimated the demand that these services generate. And yes, storage might be cheap, but eventually that may run into problems of space too, right?

And you're right, it is easy to give up. Notice the blogging frequency here?

??! said...

Oh, and for anyone wondering, that ain't me.