Monday, June 13, 2011

Information cascade

When it rains it pours, and when there's a drought you can't buy a break. Noel and I have been without laptops since the middle of last week. Mine got to the repair shop today, which was expected -- I sent it ground and decided to live with the slow pace. Noel was hoping to have his back the same day, but ended up having to leave it over the weekend and retrieve it today.

We were muddling through, dealing with things that don't work so well (posting to the AV Club content management system, chiefly), until I screwed up our network connection in a misguided affort to refurbish an old computer. We had a tense couple of hours of no internet at all while I tried to either put things back the way they should be, or create a new configuration that would work.

Then this morning Noel stopped receiving e-mail, and when I tried to send him something I got back a "user quota exceeded" error. Turns out our local ISP isn't too generous with the amount of e-mails it will let you keep on its server; the 500 or so that Noel had gotten over the last several days was too much for them. When he was able to get his laptop back and actually take the e-mails off the server, everything got back to normal.

It always seems to be that way -- when you're down, the universe kicks you, and when you're trying to work around less than optimal circumstances, your window gets narrower and narrower.

But in a good sign for thinking and acting sensibly about networks, online community guru and personal hero of mine Derek Powazek has started a new project to counter skeptical, doomsaying, or downbeat assessments of the internet and our interactions through it. Amusingly, it was inspied by a particularly off-the-mark tweet by a respected commentator. I like where Derek is going with this -- especially as foreshadowed by his Declaration of Principles. Follow his progress on this tumblr, and enjoy the counter-narrative that's so badly needed.

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