The Internet mourns New York

By Вen Li

In the hours after the tragedy in New York, some parts of the Internet slowed to a crawl as news sites were deluged with millions of users around the world seeking information.

While regular and cell phone networks were bogged down with desperate cries for help and emergency communications, e-mail, instant messaging and chat services over Internet connections informed friends and relatives of the situation.

Internet communications providers reported significant increases in traffic–to the point where some servers were overloaded–in the hours after the acts of aggression, from both those giving first-hand accounts of the event, and those seeking information news sites like CNN could not provide.

The back channels of the Internet, including Internet Relay Chat and personal Web logs saw traffic at levels exceeding those on the nights of the 1996 and 2000 U.S. Presidential elections. This time, however, the network was resilient and survived like the people around it.

New communities quickly developed in those back channels, to relive, to mourn, to comfort, to share, to blame, and to express outrage at the vultures of society who seek to profit from tragedy. By the evening, the ears of auction sites had heard cries of outrage. World Trade Center "memorabilia" and wreckage–taking bids of hundreds of dollars–were pulled.

They also shared images, captured forever in the cameras and bits of countless computers, and in the minds of those who lived it, so that others will remember.

The Internet lost many of its own. Daniel Lewin, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Akami Technologies–his software likely served you the news of that day–was on the first of the two New York planes immolated.

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