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Old 01-29-2012, 10:21 PM   #1
Rob Williams
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Default The Internet Stratification: Tales of an Unequal Web

Think that the Web is equal for all? Not quite. While countries with great access to the Internet move towards creating content-heavy websites and services that require ever faster connections, there exists even more countries that would simply like a stable and reliable Internet connection to begin with. Read on to explore this digital divide.

Read through Mario's look at the Internet you're likely not aware of, and then discuss it here!
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Old 01-30-2012, 02:08 AM   #2
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That was a nice read!
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Old 01-31-2012, 04:08 PM   #3
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I loved this editorial. It's an eye opening read and offers a perspective not often seen by those of us lucky enough to live and operate in the western, developed world.

Dooms, what are your experiences in Pakistan? I hope I am not generalizing your country but how does your connection fair compared to the rest of the world? Given your frequenting of the site, I assume you are doing quite well
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Old 01-31-2012, 05:13 PM   #4
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Does anyone still use dial-up? That was slow back in the 90's, and it was a whole different web then.
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Old 01-31-2012, 05:21 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OriginalJoeCool View Post
Does anyone still use dial-up? That was slow back in the 90's, and it was a whole different web then.

My wife's grandparents still dial up because it works. They don't know any better so it serves their purposes just fine.

I used dial-up up until about 2 years ago. I lived in the country and that's all I could get. Dial-up usage is bases on location more than choice.
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Old 01-31-2012, 06:17 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg King View Post
I used dial-up up until about 2 years ago. I lived in the country and that's all I could get. Dial-up usages is bases on location more than choice.
That's just it. I don't think most people on dial-up would opt for it over a better solution.

I found this article to be a great read also... so much so that I ended up reading through it a second time. I complain a lot about my home Internet connection, but it's pretty well impossible to after reading this.
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Old 01-31-2012, 10:34 PM   #7
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Better compression, webpage graphics, etc, are often at the back of a web-dev's mind, more concerned with getting the job done and not slamming the server. Now it feels like how many services, flash apps and applets a site can cram on the front page... Even on a fast connection, some sites are slow loading, never mind what is expected of dial-up.

But as Mario points out, it's not just web pages, but internet based services, like games. I can see why companies want online authentication for services, but they come from locations with always-on connections, they have no concept of an unreliable connection. They may think they do with their 1-2 hour outage once a week; but when things get rough, there might as well be no internet.

I used dial-up for many years, from 1996 - 2004. I can say that I would never like to go back to that again, might as well just forget the internet. When it takes 30 mins to download a couple dozen emails, things look pretty bleak. What's worse is non-resumable downloads. A 'small' 20MB download suddenly takes the best part of a day to download. How is one supposed to update a graphics driver when they're 100MB each, let alone a game update.

Here's me moaning about a 60GB/m bandwidth cap... which I still think is an arbitrary limit for no reason - but that's another matter entirely.

Thanks Mario, for a little perspective on the matter.
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Old 02-01-2012, 07:35 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greg King View Post
I loved this editorial. It's an eye opening read and offers a perspective not often seen by those of us lucky enough to live and operate in the western, developed world.

Dooms, what are your experiences in Pakistan? I hope I am not generalizing your country but how does your connection fair compared to the rest of the world? Given your frequenting of the site, I assume you are doing quite well
I had been using the internet since 2000, dial-up. Not very reliable as the lines get messed up pretty often. But after 2007, things changed ALOT! I started off with a 64kbps ADSL connection, unlimited up/down for Rs.1200($10 at that time) per month and by mid 2009 the same connection had gone upto 1Mbps, same price!

Currently i have jumped to fiber optic cable net, 4Mbps for Rs.2000($22) per month! Which is awesome, I payed the yearly amount and got 15% discount!

So to sum it up, the internet here is pretty good! My first attempt into an MMO, SWTOR, has been very good! I play for 6 to 8 hrs and never had any disconnection or lag issues from my side! Now that Diablo 3 is also an online game, I don't feel so angry towards Blizzard anymore!
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Old 02-04-2012, 02:27 PM   #9
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I do think we should be critic of what is being offered to us in terms of bandwidth. It's a service and we pay for it. As customers we should always be highly critic, regardless of what happens somewhere else in the world.

However, I do think "we" (western internet culture) have been highly wasteful of bandwidth, having increased its demand not just by creating new services and products that demand more of it, but -- and this is the problem -- by ignoring bandwidth requirements through a "everyone has broadband anyways" mindset.

Take gmail lack of a feature to disable autosave as an example. It's something that really creates a huge problem to slow connections. It's also highly wasteful to connection on very tight bandwidth plans. Website development has also "evolved" into a culture of waste in terms of bandwidth and new technologies and many new services have meanwhile been entirely based on high bandwidth requirements.

I suspect -- and on some cases, am entirely sure -- that we don't always need to create services with these high requirements in mind. Optimization and a careful consideration to services features should still be on the forefront for any project manager and any developer.

Not just because more than half the world may still be using a slow and limited connection. Simply because of an economy of resources, considering bandwidth is, contrary to popular belief, a finite and costly resource.

Incidentally, this divide isn't just widening between developed and underdeveloped countries. Wi-Fi connections are experiencing similar problems. Do not forget that we already have the need today to present websites and services to cellphones with a different and more economical presentation. Not just because their screen is smaller, but because their connections are on many cases still considerably slower, usually highly bandwidth limited, and much more prone to network clog.

It's quite revealing that we have to create an entire new website just for slow or limited connections. It's an indication we are complicating matters, instead of solving problems.
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Old 02-05-2012, 03:29 PM   #10
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The following maps didn't make it to the original article because I didn't know they existed. I could have known they existed, had I written that article in Europe or North American and, as such, benefited from a faster and less limited connection that would have allowed me to do proper research on the internet. Another example of the tremendous limitations imposed today to anyone wanting to access information on the internet through less than ideal conditions.

World Internet Usage Density


World City-to-City Connections


(Source: Chris Harrison)

These maps illustrate very well the Digital Divide our societies experience. The City-To-City Connections maps also illustrate another troubling consequence of a North-American/European dominance, which is a strong Western culture influence over the world wide web.
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