kottke.org posts about internet

The anternetApr 04 2014

Researchers at Stanford have observed that foraging harvester ants act like TCP/IP packets, so much so that they're calling the ants' behavior "the anternet".

Transmission Control Protocol, or TCP, is an algorithm that manages data congestion on the Internet, and as such was integral in allowing the early web to scale up from a few dozen nodes to the billions in use today. Here's how it works: As a source, A, transfers a file to a destination, B, the file is broken into numbered packets. When B receives each packet, it sends an acknowledgment, or an ack, to A, that the packet arrived.

This feedback loop allows TCP to run congestion avoidance: If acks return at a slower rate than the data was sent out, that indicates that there is little bandwidth available, and the source throttles data transmission down accordingly. If acks return quickly, the source boosts its transmission speed. The process determines how much bandwidth is available and throttles data transmission accordingly.

It turns out that harvester ants (Pogonomyrmex barbatus) behave nearly the same way when searching for food. Gordon has found that the rate at which harvester ants -- which forage for seeds as individuals -- leave the nest to search for food corresponds to food availability.

A forager won't return to the nest until it finds food. If seeds are plentiful, foragers return faster, and more ants leave the nest to forage. If, however, ants begin returning empty handed, the search is slowed, and perhaps called off.

(via wordspy)

Are you currently on the internet?Oct 11 2012

In response to some blogfight I don't really understand or care too much about, Choire Sicha published a handy guide for determining whether you are on the internet or not.

Sometimes it's hard to tell if you are on the Internet or not. For example you are almost always typing into a box on a series of screens on your computer. Because of this, there are whole sections of the Internet that are pretty sure they are not on the Internet, because, they are just boxes, right? You could be typing into anything, who knows if it's public. This was true about LiveJournal for a long time. When you would link to a posting on LiveJournal, back in the day, you would get outraged emails about invasion of privacy. Because in their minds, they were just typing in their diary.

MTV News report on the internet from 1995Aug 12 2011

Lots of footage from The Net, Johnny Mnemonic, etc., virtual reality, Moby with hair, and websites of yore.

At the Web 2.0 conference, Clay Shirky gaveApr 28 2008

At the Web 2.0 conference, Clay Shirky gave a talk called Gin, Television, and Social Surplus. In it, he argues that the "social surplus" soaked up in the latter half of the 20th century by television is now being put to better use on the internet.

For the first time, society forced onto an enormous number of its citizens the requirement to manage something they had never had to manage before--free time. And what did we do with that free time? Well, mostly we spent it watching TV. We did that for decades. We watched I Love Lucy. We watched Gilligan's Island. We watch Malcolm in the Middle. We watch Desperate Housewives. Desperate Housewives essentially functioned as a kind of cognitive heat sink, dissipating thinking that might otherwise have built up and caused society to overheat.

But maybe it's possible that the internet is a slightly more sophisticated (or slightly more cognitive) cognitive heat sink?

An article in the Times about theMar 02 2008

An article in the Times about the transition of sales in high-end galleries to the web.

Mr. Gupta said about half of his sales take place without the presence of the buyer. "Being in Chicago, without the walk-in traffic of a gallery in New York or even L.A., I can't imagine working without digital images," he said. "We have a ton of European collectors, and we reach them through art fairs and digital images, a combined effort."

(via ev +/-)

Could global warming kill the internet? "TheAug 02 2006

Could global warming kill the internet? "The internet is a big network of servers, and servers are hot. They devour electricity, they run hot and they mainline air conditioning. When the global thermostat goes up, the servers start going down." (via migurski)

A CBC report from 1993 on a globalJul 12 2006

A CBC report from 1993 on a global phenomenon called "Internet". (thx, joshua)

Update: Here's a mirror on YouTube.

things magazine has a nice little postOct 21 2005

things magazine has a nice little post on the Internet as reliquary. Reminds me of Julian Dibbell's comparison of weblogs to wunderkammers.

If public parks (like NYC's Bryant Park)Sep 28 2005

If public parks (like NYC's Bryant Park) offer free wifi, why don't expensive hotels? I can't find the link right now, but I remember reading something awhile ago (possibly on Boing Boing) arguing that free wifi was easier and cheaper for businesses to offer than a paid option because you don't need the ecommerce bit (sort of like a free grocery store not needing cashiers, etc.) and the free internet will bring people in.

Update: Here's that Boing Boing post: "Operating a WiFi hotspot that you charge money for costs $30 a day. Operating a free WiFi hotspot costs $6." (thx alex)

You've got to love an article calledSep 14 2005

You've got to love an article called The Ten Stupidest Utopias. In regard to the Internet, he says "utopia is never more than what we are; the people in them will always be just like us".

USA Today article from 1988 on computer viruses affecting the "INTERnet"Aug 02 2005

USA Today article from 1988 on computer viruses affecting the "INTERnet".

Good overview of what the Internet ArchiveApr 08 2005

Good overview of what the Internet Archive is up to these days.

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