As I was getting ready for work this morning, checking my Android phone for email and the weather app to see if it was cold enough to wear a coat, I started thinking about the SOPA censorship protests scheduled for today. I couldn’t help but wonder what the world would be like if the internet stopped working.
This is a far-fetched idea of course. The internet isn’t a car engine that can just be switched off with a key. It is a flexible network of networks of more networks. Even if a section of the internet were to go offline in the wake of a natural disaster, other sections would remain functional.
But for posterity’s sake let’s consider the idea of a world completely without internet for a day.
There is no doubt that as the internet has grown, so has our dependence upon it. How many of you used the internet in some capacity this morning? To place an online lunch order, RSVP to an event tonight posted on Facebook, play music on Pandora, or pay for your Starbucks coffee with a credit card?
The internet is more far reaching than just personal use. Businesses use websites and online advertising to sell their products and services. They also depend on the internet for internal communication: email, instant messaging, voice over IP services (conference calls), and credit card processing.
So what would happen if the internet stopped working?
Companies that would be obsolete without internet access:
- Xbox Live
Many services that we take for granted on a daily basis would be disrupted for a while until we reverted back to pre-internet methods of performing tasks.
Services that would be disrupted:
- Credit and debit card purchases
- FedEx (tracking packages)
- Monitoring systems (from oil drills, to nanny cams)
- Netflix online streaming
- Online bill pay
- Web-based educational courses
This is by no means a comprehensive list. Our modern lives are more entwined and dependent on the internet than we can possibly count. What are some other key services and daily activities you can think of that would be disrupted in a world without internet?