In my line of work, I meet many young people, some of whom have never known dial-up. For them, having to wait a few seconds for a web page to load seems like “ages.” But as we speed things up, I have begun to sense people are actually slowing down, unable to cope with the torrent of data coming at them.
So the lure of a much faster internet, while it sounds wonderful, could rev up our lives more than we need, eliminating the need for quiet pauses, the “white space” in our thinking process. Getting past the ‘world wide wait’ is one thing. Being paralyzed by TMI and TMI (too much information, too many inputs) is another. A new word ‘exabyte’ is being tossed around. One Exabyte (EB) being one quintillion bytes. Never mind what quintillion means, it’s way too much!
In the UK, they are looking at “super-fast broadband” piped into homes through underground water pipes. Some years ago, Caltech developed a protocol called FAST –a geeky acronym for “Fast Active queue management Scalable Transmission Control Protocol (TCP)” Basically a new way of routing around congestion.
A warning cry is going out: “The exaflood is coming.” Maybe we should voluntarily slow down, before we are compelled to do it by other means.