The weakest (Internet) link – Asia

Reported here, here and elsewhere:

Telephone and internet services were disrupted across Asia after a powerful earthquake struck near southern Taiwan

Apparently 40%-60% of capacity was initially lost due to damage to two undersea telecommunication links.

People affected have my sympathy, but its funny as isn’t this the type of thing the “net” supposed to survive? Hmm – well according to sources quoted in Wikipedia this is just a myth:

The ARPANET was not started to create a Command and Control System that would survive a nuclear attack, as many now claim… Rather, the ARPAnet came out of our frustration that there were only a limited number of large, powerful research computers in the country

It certainly makes you think twice about the Web Office concept and utility computing, or at least if they are based on the public internet communications infrastructure.

Upload Me

I’ve blogged about life caching before and – via the Middle Zone Musings blog – here is a great profile of Microsoft computer scientist Gorden Bell by Clive Thompson for Fast Company on his experimental work in this space. Bell is “trying to record every single experience he has, every day: Every phone call, email, conversation, web page, snapshot of everything he sees“.

Thompson does an excellent job of exploring not only what is remembered, but the implications for remembering, forgetting and what happens when digital memories are accidentally lost – including the comment that all this technology “might be slowly degrading his real, carbon-based brain’s ability to remember clearly.” Hmm – that’s got me worried too as I treat this blog as bit of a memory aid!

But reading Danah Boyd‘s post from last week on being virtual, I wonder if Bell isn’t a little off track for a more fundamental reason – as Web 2.0 and social software is showing us, we’re still social animals even when we augment our ability to communicate with technology… so its not about remembering for remembering’s sake, but sharing. Or as Boyd puts it, “These technologies haven’t been adopted as an alternative to meatspace; they’ve been adopted to complement it“.

Update: See, even the new Wii game system is impacting back into the “meatspace”.

Half full or half empty?

Despite my recent focus on Enterprise 2.0 and so on, I’m still concerned with the issue of IT and its broader impact on organisations, like this report and comment from Andrew McAfee on a speech by Robert J. Gordon about IT and productivity (or rather the lack of).

Gordon‘s thoughts are worth thinking about because he has changed his view on the contribution of IT to productivity from a positive view to a more pessimistic stance. McAfee summarises Gordon, saying “His broad point was that IT definitely delivered a productivity jolt to the US economy in the late 1990s, but that that era is past.”

McAfee is still generally optimistic, believing that “Like previous general purpose technologies IT is having a deeply transformative effect, which will take many years to play out completely.

I also wonder if perhaps we are a little too focused on productivity and instead should also look for opportunity value created by IT.


Summer Reading Online

The summer break (in Australia) is almost here, so my thoughts at the moment are turned towards looking for ideas for summer reading and Christmas present ideas for my own wish list!

Based on a recommendation from Anecdote, I recently used my meager earnings from click throughs to Amazon to order a copy of Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software by Steven Johnson.

However, for some holiday reading I’m also looking for some interesting sci-fi to read and came across a couple of interesting Canadian writers, notable for both their stories and their approach to sharing their work via Creative Commons online:

Doctorow goes to extraordinary lengths to share his work electronically – check out the different versions available for his latest book, Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town.

Of course the point is that I would never have “discovered” any of these authors or blogged about them if their work hadn’t been available online – a point made by many others.