Tuesday, May 17, 2005

This is the end of the Web as we know it...

and I feel fine. I am not truly sure what to make of this, but it sounds Important. It seems like Google has created an application called Google Web Accelerator. This is a small application that is supposed to allow people to load pages faster. How does it do it? It acts as a proxy client, where popular pages are stored in Google machines and other clients serving files. According to Google, this is done by:

  • Sending your page requests through Google machines dedicated to handling Google Web Accelerator traffic.
  • Storing copies of frequently looked at pages to make them quickly accessible.
  • Downloading only the updates if a web page has changed slightly since you last viewed it.
  • Prefetching certain pages onto your computer in advance.
  • Managing your Internet connection to reduce delays.
  • Compressing data before sending it to your computer.
This is good, right? Hmmm... perhaps not (some are already boycotting Google). One possible result would be that Google would have unlimited control over what you see, and the web would become the World Wide Google. Well, it already is in many ways, but such control makes me feel a bit uneasy, sort of what I would feel if I was a citizen of the Republic and was reading news that Chancellor Palpatine was gaining more control over the government.

Developments such as this prompts me to ask about the accountability that such huge power entails. Legislators do not have any idea of how the internet works, and they generally respond with silly, misguided or inefficient regulation that does nothing to solve any problems whatsoever. Has anybody stopped receiving less spam as a result of the many new and shiny laws that forbid it? No, the solution so far has been technical, not legal. The web is about to change, and a few companies are about to obtain ultimate power. Trust regulators to miss this development and pass new anti-piracy legislation, because the only real danger online is a 15 year-old downloading a song.

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