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Scaling the Internet for really big news

By Brian | June 26, 2009 | Share on Facebook

According to CNN, when Michael Jackson died, he almost took significant parts of the Internet with him. Sites that experienced slowness or outright downtime included Google News, TMZ, Perez Hilton’s blog, CNN, Twitter, Wikipedia, the LA Times’ site, AOL Instant Messenger, and MJFanClub.net (a Michael Jackson fan site).

The article calls it the biggest mobile event in history:

AOL consumer adviser Regina Lewis . . .told CNN that, although the numbers weren’t in yet, the day should prove an historic milestone for mobile internet traffic. “It could go down as the biggest mobile event in history,” Lewis said. She felt that was down in part to people checking news headlines from work. “People wanted to keep tabs on this story, but if you’re an accountant you’re supposed to be working on your spreadsheet. So they were using their personal cellphones to do so,” she explained.

While the scale of response to Jackson’s death might be unprecedented, the pattern of it was not, Lewis added. “With the advent of social networking, we saw a sequence that we traditionally see around the death of celebrities,” she said. “One, people clamour for the latest news; two, they share it; three, they react; and then the next stage, which we’re seeing alive and well on video sites … are tributes. In the case of Michael Jackson and Farah Fawcett, (people have) a lot to work with in terms of images and video,” she said.

A similar event that comes to mind (purely from an infromation technology point of view) is September 11, 2001. On that day, cell phones and web sites had huge outages as well, with some web sites reverting to plain text feeds in order to maximize their use of bandwidth to get information disseminated.

What’s different here, is that almost eight years later, the number of mobile devices in the world has dramatically increased, as has the breadth and depth of bandwidth-hogging rich media, like video clips. So, while scaling to handle another 9/11 involved adding more web servers and IP bandwidth, solving this problem is going to be a bit more complex. Network infrastructure folks, responding to Michael Jackson’s death, will have to respond to a wider variety of devices, protocols, and data objects moving around concurrently.

Yet another way Michael Jackson inadvertently changed the world…

Topics: Tech Talk, Words about Music | 1 Comment »

One Response to “Scaling the Internet for really big news”

  1. Posts about Mobile Internet as of June 27, 2009 | IMHO Conferences & Consulting says at June 27th, 2009 at 2:50 pm :
    […] around them; and yet technology moves so fast that our phones become outdated and are replaced Scaling the Internet for really big news – familygreenberg.com 06/26/2009 According to CNN , when Michael Jackson died, he almost took […]