spike logo


How many functions of our modern society are now broken?

[Bottom of Page] [Index] [Home]

I have had a view for some time that the most significant characteristic of the present time is that things that used to work are now broken.

One example is the behaviour of politicians. Politicians used to be honest or at least were forced to resign if they were caught lying but now they lie with impunity. The previously accepted value of honesty in politicians is now "broken".

Other examples of this epidemic of broken functions are mentioned in other essays on this site.

Today in the news I heard a story which indicated that more things than I thought possible are broken.

An earthquake near Taiwan took a communications cable out and the Internet is reported to have failed for all users in Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Korea and Japan.

The specification of the system designed by DARPA to provide a digital communication network required that it be robust against local damage. The requirement was that traffic would be automatically routed around any outage so that messages would be delivered even in the presence of local damage to the network. The DARPA system became the Internet which was originally private but which later became the commercial network we use today.

Clearly, either the reports of multinational failure caused by a single cable (or perhaps a number of collocated cables) failure is not true, and we must be sceptical of anything we read, hear, or view, these days, or the Internet has been modified as a result of its commercialization in such a way that the original specification requirement is no longer met by the real system.

In the light of the pandemic of broken systems in today's world, it may well be that the reports are correct and the Internet is broken in a big way. I just hope that the people who need reliable communication, like the military, have taken the trouble to build a duplicate network for their private use to ensure that their essential communications cannot be compromised by a single "terrorist" attack.

Another aspect of this story shows that it's not just the Internet that is broken. Users reported that they had no backup communication system which they could use to transact their business or their personal affairs which shows that their business systems are also broken because they have no adequate redundancy.

[Top of Page] [Index] [Home]
Created: 4/1/07 and last revised 17/12/07
Author: Robin Chalmers Copyright in all the material on this site is asserted by the author
Contact the webmaster