Sunday, June 13, 2010

Traffic Jams on the Information Super Highway?

Popular social networking site, Twitter, warned of potential outages that may occur due to predicted heavy usage traffic during the month long World Cup Finals. Apparently Twitter, which has experienced a series of outages in the past week or so, will be doubling it's capacity and re-balancing traffic on it's network to mitigate any potential soccer-related outages.

Twitter users are already likely familiar with the "fail whale," which is kind of cartoon whale picture that appears on the site during failures related to heavy usage. Jean-Paul Cozzatti, an engineer at Twitter,and his team are working to attempt to minimize the number of appearances the creature makes during this summer's tournament. However as Cozzatti himself told Yahoo news Friday, "You may still see the whale when there are unprecedented spikes in traffic."

The number of different medias and manners in which people will follow the World Cup this summer have increased dramatically from even the last tournament which was held four years ago. Social networking sites Twitter, Gather and Facebook are getting in on the act. Yahoo has even signed on David Beckham as part of it's coverage of the event (Becks, was hoping to play for the English team this summer however he was ruled out because of an injury).

People will be watching games on their laptops, their desktops, their iPhones, their iPads and maybe even in some cases, on their televisions. With all those millions and millions of people watching matches and tweeting and texting their reactions and commentary back and forth while they do so, the month long tournament certainly looks set to occupy a significant portion of the available bandwidth in the entire telecommunications industry.

American sports network ESPN, is giving the tournament pole position on several of it's stations as well as on the Web. The fact that the USA managed a draw with England and may yet do well this time around has served to draw even more increased attention to the event. With all this World Cup related traffic set to go out over the airwaves one can only wonder if Twitter won't be the thing that experiences "outages," in the coming weeks.

The World Cup has long been one of the single most massive collective global events. Soccer's growing stature in America, along with the way digital technology and the Internet have globalized the world, could possibly make this summer's Cup the biggest sporting event in history.

If Twitter has experienced outages during the week leading up to the kickoff, one can only wonder what will happen during the final. Four years ago in Germany, the final between France and Italy was viewed by approximately 284 million people. This year, with Twitter, Facebook, iPads, ESPN online and all the rest of it, the viewership could easily increase by 100 million or more.

So be warned, the traffic forecast for the information super highway this summer looks to be busy, busy, busy as computers, televisions, telephones, iPods and iPads are all going to be buzzing like a stadium full of plastic vuvuzela horns.

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