The Cassandra meme

Is it over?

As 2007 begins, the shadows are lengthening, the funk is deepening, and there’s a bad meme on the rise. On January 5, Robert Cringely says that the net’s a house of cards, and it’s about to collapse under the weight of big video files. On January 6, Jeremy Reimer, of Ars Technica, says that video may put such a strain on the web that ISPs start regulating traffic, de-neutralizing the net. On January 7, John Markoff, in a big New York Times article on the proliferation of botnets, says, “the bad guys are honing their weapons and increasing their firepower.” On January 9, the ironically named Sunshine Mugrabi, at Red Herring, says, “Layoffs and debt-ridden companies abound in a dire sign of another dot-com bust.” This morning, Information Week reports that spam has hit unprecedented levels, accounting for 94% of all email.

And now, in a Wired interview, Jonathan Zittrain, the founder of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, raises the possibility of an Internet apocalypse, spurred by “software saboteurs.” “You really think the sky could be falling?” the interviewer asks. “Yes,” responds Zittrain. “Though by the time it falls, it may seem perfectly normal. It’s entirely possible that the past 25 years will seem like an extended version of the infatuation we once had with CB radio, when we thought that it was the great new power to the people.”

What are they putting in the Kool-Aid these days?

3 Comments

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3 Responses to The Cassandra meme

  1. All these doomsayers are assuming the video content is compelling, a highly questionable assumption at best.

  2. Well, putting on my conspiracy theory hat… I don’t think it’s mere coincidence that all this talk is starting at about the time Congress is going to be dealing with the Net Neutrality Act. As the father of a one-time lobbyist, there are many ways to float base concepts, and even unaligned people get caught up in the discussion (that is, I don’t think all these people necessarily are being directly manipulated). In any event, watch for more “nightmare scenarios” being discussed and, as a result, more and more alignment around the idea that an unregulated (and free) internet just won’t cut it anymore…

  3. Matthieu RIou

    As I’ve mentioned it in my weblog, the non-availablity of a higher bandwidth is pretty local to North America. And solutions exist. It’s just that nobody has put enough pressure on the infrastructure guys yet. But with enough kool aid…