Change over time

Sometimes, it’s not easy to what is changing, or what the pace of change is. Today is a day when I can see pretty clearly what has changed over the last 8 years (and no, this is not a posting about politics).

Today’s US Presidential inauguration was marked by bandwidth issues.

Would cell networks hold up under the strain of phone calls, text messaging, and other “smartphone” usage? (They networks seemed to have performed well, but probably due to temporary upgrades.)

Would the internet support the level of video streaming that was called for all day long? (It did, kind of, but only because it was planned for. One such provider, Akamai, reported that more than 7 million video streams were being watched at 12:15 p.m. Eastern time.)

Would the internet support other types of heavy usage? Yes. The inauguration has been recorded and relayed in all kinds of ways, from Twitter, to Flickr, to Facebook status updates, to blog postings, to emails going back and forth — a lot of effort has been put into recording the events and emotions of the day. Much of that effort has been expended by citizens, not by journalists. Much of the recording has been done via mobile devices.

Eight years ago, we were not concerned with streaming video. Flickr, Twitter, and Facebook did not exist. Camera phones were a rarity, and not the ubiquitous commodity they are today. Blogging was an activity reserved for somebodys, not everybodys.

Today is a good moment to sit back and reflect on change, the rate of change, and to think about what the next eight years might bring. What needs will we need to meet in the future?

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One Comment

  1. In theory the video streaming did not fail, but in practice it started to choke right around 11:30 EST for a large gathering in a church basement near the Capitol in DC; I’m not sure if it was the networks (CNN and MSNBC) or our service provider. Just as the President began his oath, all eyes turned to the reliable, but grainy, image on a TV set with rabbit ears to hear the swearing in, because the streaming video had dried up to a frozen image. In just a few weeks or months that television broadcast analog system will be completely outdated, and inaccessible without upgrades too. I would say that we are still very much in transition with regard to bandwidth.

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