the state of the internet

In the future, there will be so much going on
no one will be able to keep track of it

David Byrne, “In the Future”, Knee Plays, 1984

Web designer Jesse Thomas, “an innovator, designer, visionary, entrepreneur, collaborator, leader, teacher, and eager learner” (a CV which would have relegated him to the New Age flake corner 20 years ago), last week posted a great little video on the SIZE and SCOPE of the internet – JESS3 / The State of The Internet.

(Sorry, I have to pay to upgrade to embed videos)

I say little, as that is the feel of it with it’s faux retro graphics style; I have enough trouble putting together a song on a computer to know the brainpower and mental clarity needed to create an animated video of the same length is beyond my grasp.

Like 2008’s Unbelievably Big  Technology Numbers video Did You Know?, which itself in some “life imitates art” irony has been watched more times on YouTube than if it were seen by every man, woman and child in New York City, this gives some idea of the stunningly huge numbers involved as the over 6 billion people on this planet go about their lives every day.

Like the 1.73 billion of us who use the internet received 90,000,000,000,000 emails last year – then again, 73,000,000,000,0000 of those emails were spam.

But some figures I wonder about.

When the Catholic Church declares there are 1.1 billlion Catholics – 1.1 billion people did not attend the Holy See’s churches yesterday.  The Vatican counts everyone alive who was ever baptized, not actual regular churchgoers or even self-identified Catholics.

The same with some of the numbers in Mr. Thomas’s video… Does the 1.4 billion email users include my septuagenarian parents, who each have a couple email accounts they haven’t accessed – a word which they themselves would never use – since a year ago when they gave up on computer?

Blogs?  126 million of those.  Do they include my own 3 dormant blogs (including my old Blogspot’s Dancing After Curfew), and the 4 or so others I created when I got some pulse racing writing idea or cool title, but after my first little “hello world, I plan to do great things here!” post – if that – I never, never posted on?  (I’m not the only one, right?)

Most of “The State of the Internet” gives pure numbers, though.  Like over 6 million Facebook pageviews per minute.  Facebook needs over 30,000 servers – imagine a server sitting in every house in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Just to keep Facebook alone running.

I remember when I was maybe 10, and my father brought home from work a real computer printout! – a vague picture of a woman in a bikini sitting on a stool, printed out in gray X’s and O‘s.  Like a blow-up of an old fashioned newspaper photo – if you’re under 40, do you even know what I mean by that?- you had to step back across the room and squint to see that she was smiling.

In a place I used to work, a manager had on his office wall a photograph from the 1950 – a young woman chunky and sitting stiffly by our standards, was holding up a potted plant in front of a huge television camera in the only lighting in a darkened studio.  I finally asked him if it was his mother.  He said no, he didn’t know who she was, but she was at  the cutting edge of technology at the time. He had it to remind him that no matter how technologically savvy we think we are, in 50 years we will look as silly as she does today.


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