I was catching up on a backlog of alerts from MIT Technology Review. Lots of stuff about social networking, and I’m not going to discuss that here. Some of the services reviewed are the standard ones (MySpace vs Facebook, Twitter and so on) and some are smaller scale upstarts which might be the next great thing.
But this one article is worth reading, and I thought I’d flag it here rather than just tag it in del.icio.us. MIT’s Technology Review discusses whether the level of traffic now being generated will kill the internet as we know it.
The surge in video traffic started with YouTube, but there is a lot of higher-quality user-generated video out there now and some of it gets insane numbers of hits just because it’s quirky and catches someone’s attention. And the broadcasters are in on it. In the UK, the BBC’s iPlayer is coming up for its first refresh; it’s been a wildly successful service, allowing programmes to be retrieved and re-watched over a seven day period, or retrieved and downloaded until the DRM software causes them to self destruct. ITV and Channel 4 have a slightly different model, but the key thing – in common with the US broadcast-linked services mentioned by TR – is that these are peer-to-peer applications. So, not all the bandwidth used is server-to-user; a lot of it is user-to-user, and the iPlayer T&Cs make explicit the permission for your iPlayer to be used in this way.
What’s the growth factor? TR quotes analyst Nemertes as saying 100% per year. An alternative academic estimate of 50% growth can probably be coped with by current technology trends. Watch this space … while you still can!
• Internet Gridlock (MIT Technology Review, July/August 2008 )
• The Internet Singularity, Delayed: Why Limits in Internet Capacity Will Stifle Innovation on the Web (Nemertes, Nov 2007)