By Perry Wu
Proving that the Internet's infrastructure is as delicate and overrated as many of the business models that have embraced it, the Internet has died in China.
Well, actually you can still see any website hosted within China, but mainland Chinese netizens hoping to access their favorite offshore gambling or portal website are out of luck. The 6.7 earthquake that shook Taiwan on Tuesday this week is blamed for upsetting the Internet's paper-thin ecosystem in Asia, leaving email, online chats, file transfers, and webpages offline.
Duct tape holds the Internet together, and the more we take bits and bytes for granted, the harder it is to cope in situations like these. How many of you have digital offices that are now 'empty'? How many are relying on an important online chat to seal a deal this week in China? I guess the only bonus to this outage is now all those obnoxious holiday e-greetings have been erased, or postponed until the spigot blares again.
Our world today relies so much on processed power: computers, televisions, digital clocks, automobiles. I worry sometimes about how my descendents in 100 years will be able to open the electronic photo albums and videos I leave for them. Will the technology in a century be backward-compatible to handle the GIFs, JPEGs, and MPEGs of today? But I most worry about how our world would survive in a place with no batteries, electrical outlets, or transistors. Sure, Third World nations cope today, but what happens if we lose all our current digital data one day when, for some sci-fi reason, the electricity runs out? Ever read Isaac Asimov? My mother met him and traded letters with him thirty years ago, leading me to discover his novels about small atomic-powered devices that run forever. What a dream!
So when a natural disaster breaks man's greatest invention, it shows us all how much faith, like a religion, we place in technology. Time Magazine in the United States ridiculously made "you" its "person of the year" for 2006 because "you" are so important to driving the Internet forward. With the Internet shuttered, I guess now "you" will have to enjoy spending more time reading a good, old-fashioned book.
About the author:
Perry Wu is a writer and correspondent for ChinaTechNews.com and can be reached here at the site. Perry Wu does not hold any positions, long or short, on any of the Chinese or American company securities mentioned in this article.