Is Internet falling apart without us noticing?

We perceive Internet as something global and consistent. But is it?

In early years online was even field. Users were close in age, tech-savvy on same level and visiting same few sites. Since then it all went uphill.

Language barriers

English is language of international communication. Still increasing number of Internet users can easily put English out of favor - it is estimated to be only forth language by number of native speakers.



Photo by tinou bao.

Can ease of worldwide communication can still be achieved if you can’t be sure other party speaks the same language you do? There is a lot of research going for achieving correct real time translation. Still not there.

Bandwidth threshold

YouTube is one of the sites you hear about very often. To numerous Internet users it is limited to hearing about. Being on dialup or other low-speed connection effectively cuts you of any modern online services that require fast connection.



Photo by The Pack.

Annual growth of traffic creates reaction from Internet providers unwilling to invest in hardware. Balance of service and bandwidth consumption will be reached sooner or later. Question is – will it land on acceptable level and what amount of innovative services will be cut off.

Geo targeting

Getting on that first page of Google is a dream for many. Only that first page no longer exists. It was fractured into numerous first pages that try to suit every user personally. Results you get are influenced by localized version of Google page you are using, your geographical location and your previous searches history (if you are logged in with Google account). Same with advertisement you are getting online from Google or others.



Photo by sue clark98.

It’s not unnatural for international companies to route visitors for local version of their portals. It would worked fine if local version weren’t poorly translated shadows of main version and running on broken badly adapted code.

There is more and more services that struggle to outright restrict usage to certain geography. Which brings us to next issue.

Networks over networks

Action creates reaction. When there is wall to breach there are minds to think about it. Restrictions that appear in Internet inspire creation of networks running above Internet. Virtual private network concepts are adapted to provide anonymizing and file-sharing services. Browsing is done through complex onion routing setups. Peer to peer evolves into heavily encrypted darknets with restricted access.



Image by vitroids.

Parts of open Internet system slowly turn into black boxes.

Content breaking free

Whole idea behind latest generation of markup languages like XHTML, XML and RSS was to separate content from presentation. For simplicity and quality was implied, for content escaping from site was result.



Photo by Vinay Deep.

RSS is perfect format to use with desktop readers which make process of receiving and sorting updates easier. But in reality over 70% of my subscribers read my feed online using services like Google Reader. Think about it – people go to one web site to read content from another.

I can easily imagine services providing pure content without even having a site to display it. Instead of looking for Internet parts that suit your taste Internet will be matched and mashed up trying to serve you easily digested and advertising-friendly content. Seen Google News?

Are you sure you are seeing same Internet others are?

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  • Lyndi #

    You most certainly put a lot of work into this one. Many interesting facts you have raised here. English is also my third language but I do not see that as a barrier to the Internet, it is quite the opposite. I see it as a challenge and my journey on the Net so far has greatly improved my English. The other one of real interest to me is the slow speeds of dial-ups etc. In South Africa we have had ADSL for a while now but it is very expensive and it is only available in the bigger centers. This is the reason why most Net users over here are still using dial-ups, it is far cheaper and it is available all over. I do not have many local readers of my blog but I do keep them in mind. I will never do anything on my site that slows it down unnecessarily. The Net, like most other things is changing. If this change is for the better, only time will tell.
  • Rarst #

    @Lyndi One of posts that was planned for some time and accumulated above average of my thoughts. :) It's just the longer I use Internet - the more people I notice who are not English speakers at all. The faster my conneciton gets (we currently have boom of fiber optical channels here) the more bandwidth-hungry services I discover.
  • Nihar #

    Rarst, Great post... Looks like you did lot of research to get this post out.
  • Rarst #

    @Nihar Not really research, it's more of thoughts and common sense. Blogging just gives opportunity to work on it and shape it into post.
  • Texas Wanderer #

    Wow, I am utterly impressed with this entry, and count yourself one more subscriber. I couldn't agree more with your observations. I've been on the internet since the beginning (for the general public) and its definitely taken a sharp turn here lately. I remember my first website and how easy it was to be listed in the first page of Hotbot, and with a little persistence, Yahoo. Then along came the porn and everything mutated. No matter what you searched for, you were directed (and sometimes redirected) to a porn site. My site virtually disappeared, replaced by tens of thousands of porn sites using keywords for every word in the dictionary. Then along came Google and the longed-for Google rank, but as you said, that is going away because they are now targeting demographics with both results and ads. But learn how to manipulate a site and bid on ads, and once again many of our sites were back on top. Yet now everything revolves around feeds. Not many people, except to comment, are return visitors. And when they do, they are looked at almost like they are stalkers, or hogging the message board, etc. Now that the net is losing its "profit capability", I wonder how many sites will remain and continue to simply "put out" information. I think Google, as they have always done, is jumping out of the starting gate ahead of the rest. Because they are giving people a place to go, where ads and such will be able to be sold.
  • Rarst #

    @Texas Wanderer I agree that it's all about Google and ads for many in last years. Well Google worked hard to achieve where they stand, not their fault that none were able to match. Feeds adoption by readers is overestimated. RSS is awesome tehcnology and I like it a lot but only fraction of Internet actually uses it. On other hand adoption by publishers is very good so it's only question of time - still taking years. Decreasing profit is only another Internet bubble bursting, happened in the past. Sheer size of Internet and realtive ease for wide reach guarantees tons of good resources at all times. Only new aspect is that they may no longer be created with worldwide mindset in the future. Welcome to my blog and thanks for extensive comment! :)