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French Version

Why the 'net' isn't the best news source yet: Access Denied

Moments after the New York and Washington bombings, every major Internet news site was 'clogged up'. Cnn.com...

Moments after the New York and Washington bombings, every major Internet news site was "clogged up". Cnn.com, Yahoonews.com, abcnews.com and almost every US-based news site was inaccessible. The flood of users logging in to find out what's going on was too much to handle. Users like us, outside the US, didn't stand a chance. Access to the sites was completely denied.
Such a situation reveals the lack of ability to serve a massive influx of users; and we thought the Americans had the best bandwidth, the most reliable servers and the best capabilities to handle web traffic. Apparently, they don't. It makes you wonder who does! More importantly, this incident negated the claims that the Internet is a reliable, constantly available news source.

Amidst the Internet revolution, some very optimistic people are trying to convince us that the Internet is fast-becoming our first choice for news on current events. Rather than turn on the TV or radio, they claim that we'd rather get the same news online.

How can the Internet possibly become your first source of news if the so-called biggest news sites can't handle the traffic whenever big news breaks! The fact that the bombings happened inside the US showed, to devastating effect, how American Internet users alone could 'clog-up' the Internet's supposedly most reliable news sites.

Add too that the millions of users logging in from outside the US and you end up with a pathetic inability to serve audiences.

Suddenly, TV doesn't sound like a bad option. At least it will never give you an annoying message like "Explorer is unable to open the site" or "server is down".

On the other hand, Arab news sites like arabia.com were still functioning properly. I'm not sure though if that's a compliment. After all, if these Arab sites had a real flood of users, they would have broken down too; maybe even faster than the vastly better equipped American sites. It's twelve hours now after the bombing in New York and I still can't access cnn.com. All I want is look at the technology section (cnn.com/tech), but even that is being denied by the server.

It seems that this is a fact of life that Internet users will have to live with. No matter how much the web sites expand their capacity and ability to serve audiences, the phenomenal growth in Internet user numbers will be too much to handle. You can expect such incidents of access denial of access to happen in the future too. Again, and again, major incidents across the world will expose the vulnerability of Internet news sites. More importantly, they will prevent many users from accessing information that is of utmost interest to them. Somehow, this whole situation defies the purpose of the Internet. Someone has got to come up with a solution, before the next major news story breaks.

Zeid Nasser
The Star

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