"A unique, wry and often satirical look at the Internet, the modern age and life in general" (there is way too much search-engine competition for the phrase "incoherent ramblings")

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

What happens to the Internet at the end of the world?

The internet, especially the Web, is an incredible, organic, constantly shifting, growing, moving pulsating mass. Some of this motion is automated - crawlers, bots, daemons. But most of it is due to human activity. It's the humans who are mostly creating the content, making the links, clicking the links, voting, buying, "Digging", advertising, selling, surfing...

I had a bizarre thought - you know those films where the entire population of the earth gets wiped out, taken up to heaven, or in some other way removed from the scene? Imagine for a moment what would happen if this did occur, while all the infrastructure remained intact. Imagine that everything the Internet needs to keep going remained in place - power, servers etc.

What would happen? If all the "energy" that is currently pumped in - all the human activity we outlined above - just ceased? The net just sort of... sits there. Suddenly no content is updated, no links are clicked, no pages are viewed, no ads are read or followed, nothing is bought, nothing is paid for. The only activity is by the automatic crawlers and bots, for the purposes of indexing, spamming or whatever else it is they do. And their only purpose anyway was to analyze the human activity and regurgitate it to those same humans in different form.

So what now? Does the Internet keep on humming away to itself, oblivious? Does entropy gradually take hold and the system start to break down into some amorphous mass of random spam-like content? Or is the theory of evolution confirmed by the gradual development of the Internet into some kind of global super-mind?

My personal theory is that the entire Web will eventually resolve down to a single page which says:

Please click to exit