The internet’s biggest irony

The whole purpose of the internet was to avoid overcentralization of communication networks.  The system automatically re-routes packets around broken nodes, so you get information slowdowns, but not shutdowns.

Yet the services built on top of the internet today are increasingly centralized.  The odds of an eventual widespread business shutdown are probably going up, not down.

A huge percentage of the Web runs on Amazon Web Services.  When that goes down, tons of things break.  Netflix.  Twitter.  Maybe more fundamental things.

A huge percentage of Web traffic runs through a few huge trunk lines.  If they goes down, internet traffic doesn’t quite stop, but almost.

A growing number of companies keep all their files in cloud servers, which claim to use decentralized storage, but from the client’s perspective are a single point of failure.

Such failures have happened before.  Remember the Sidekick, produced by the presciently named Danger, Inc.?  It was an early mobile-and-messaging device. One day in 2009, all 800,000 users irretrievably lost all data, including all contacts, messages, photos and calendar events.

That was a decade ago.  Today, the cloud providers are more stable, but we’re also more centralized, and more vulnerable to system failure, than ever…

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