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Weblog Entry

Too Much Load

March 25, 2003

It strikes me as fundamentally wrong that success on the web can bite you in the ass.

The direct server–to–client model is great for keeping information centralized and under your control. But when your traffic starts edging upwards it becomes a make–or–break proposition to keep your site running. Bandwidth ain’t free, never has been, and probably never will be. You have to store your site on someone’s server, and keeping that computer up and running can sometimes be a full time job. Not to mention the electric bill.

More and more sites are resorting to funding blitzes to stay alive, soliciting donations under the threat of closure. The micro–payment idea never took off, so what else is there? Not–for–profit sites can either saturate themselves with advertising, in a time when advertisers are paying next to nothing, or they can ask for subscription fees, one–time donations, and general support from their audience.

I want to see a non–profit organization address this. I want to see a philanthropist who made their millions off the info–tech rush 5 years ago give back to the rest of us. Surely there’s someone out there who sold their dot–com (at the right time) that values the idea of a free web? Somebody who recognizes the good that people donating their time can bring to the rest of us?

It will involve time and money. The time, this community can donate. I’m sure there’s no shortage of people willing to invest the time needed to set up a server location, configure the boxes and maintain them, and monitor the service. It’s the money we need, to pay for bandwidth, hardware, and office space.

Alternatively, I’d be happy to see someone develop an alternate system for serving up the web — a peer to peer model that allows a central server to call the shots, content-wise, but refers most of the bandwidth on to associates. I’d be more than happy to lend out some of my unused processor/bandwidth time to support these sites. A Seti@Home for the independent web. Somebody make it happen!

I refuse to believe that valuable independent publications must die due to something as ridiculous as a common infrastructure problem.

This post dedicated to today’s traffic spike, courtesy of Mr. Z.


Reader Comments

1
Sam says:
March 25, 09h

What you’re asking for has been made. freenet.sourceforge.net/ everyone contributes bandwidth, CPU time etc. It’s also anonoymus, shame it’s a haven for porn.

2
Dave says:
March 26, 07h

Freenet looks like every other P2P app - correct me if I’m wrong. The inherent trouble with current P2P setups is that it’s more akin with FTP than HTTP. It’s about file transfer and grabbing music/video/whatever.

Now if someone were to come up with an HTTP front-end for Freenet, then we might have something. It has to be as easy as typing in my browser www.example.com and getting the information I wanted - completely transparent to the end user, otherwise it won’t catch on.