Scare stories


The New York Times front-pages Steve Lohr's version of the Video Will Clog The Net story, in which Lohr quickly backs down from more sensational claims (he cites a conference session entitled "The End of the Internet?") to say local service might slow in certain places, unless technology and investment keep that from happening.

The issues are real. The hype is excessive.

And the whole scare-story debunkage sounds familiar, right down to the Metcalfe eating-his-words anecdote.

Here's the subhed of an article I wrote last year: "Reports of the Internet's death are greatly exaggerated. But the growth of video and broadband access will require new investment, technology and thinking to keep it healthy."

From our story: "[T]he supply of available bandwidth, especially at the core of the net, looks healthier than the pessimists would have it...says [Vint] Cerf, a near-term capacity problem 'will be at the access edges to the net, and not in the core'...The Internet is a network of networks; at some point, generalizations about it break down."

More recently, I wrote (in a post keyed to an embarrassing error by The Economist): "One of the most predictable of predictions in the technosphere is the Death of the Internet, including slightly less-ominous variations such as the Slowing to a Crawl of the Internet."

Lohr did his job by taking a story familiar to the tech world and telling it to a general-interest audience, but the decision to sex it up and put it on A1 seems dubious to me.

I'm interested in your take on this subject. Is your company taking steps to deal with possible traffic jams? Do you know how robust your local service is, and what you can do to bullet-proof your business?