“...but how realistic is it really?”
April 4, 2019 12:13 PM   Subscribe

Could We Blow Up the Internet? [Motherboard] “About six years ago, when I told people I was writing a novel about a group of activists destroying the internet, they would always ask me two questions. The first was always “why?” Tellingly, that’s not a question I get asked anymore. More often than not I’m met with a “nice,” a “right on,” or just a knowing, appreciative nod. It seems like everybody has their own reasons for destroying the internet: Trump, gamergate, Brexit, Facebook, the alt-right, revenge porn. Take your pick, it’s been a wild six years. The second question remains the same though: “how?” [...] It’s both an exciting and frightening idea, that activists and protest groups—rather than military, paramilitary, or nation state forces—might be able to cause disruption and chaos via DIY methods of attacking internet infrastructure,”
posted by Fizz (69 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
 
“Hack the Planet!”
posted by Fizz at 12:14 PM on April 4 [15 favorites]


Obviously you need too coordinate both physical and cyber attacks concurrently on a massive scale. Easy.

Anyway, the graphic of the grim reaper scything up a bundle of ethernet cables is better suited to promote 5G.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:19 PM on April 4


If it happens, we won't be discussing it here.
posted by cccorlew at 12:20 PM on April 4 [22 favorites]


Obviously you need too coordinate both physical and cyber attacks concurrently on a massive scale. Easy.

If only there was some high-speed real-time worldwide communications channel that could allow such coordination to take place.

Anyway, it's stupid and I fucking love this question, especially since the real answer is "yes, just fuck with DNS and BGP"
posted by phooky at 12:23 PM on April 4 [17 favorites]


                    GENERAL:
Okay, I like it. But which one of the internets do we hack?

                    BRUCE:
All of them.

posted by gauche at 12:23 PM on April 4 [8 favorites]


If it happens, we won't be discussing it here.

MetaShhhhhhhhhh! 🤫
posted by Fizz at 12:28 PM on April 4


DIY jamming technologies can be effective

Yes, yes they can. Deploying them is also several felonies, so unless protest itself has already been made illegal, then don't dick around with jamming unless you don't mind the FCC kicking your door down. Radio jammers are extremely illegal because they are so easy to make.
posted by BungaDunga at 12:35 PM on April 4 [9 favorites]


I've worked from home, primarily, for the better part of 20 years. I haven't had an unexpected day off that didn't involve being massively ill in the same timeframe. I wouldn't mind if there was an Internet disruption for, oh, say a week?

Not really, I know it'd be a Bad Thing(TM) but damn I miss snow days...
posted by jzb at 12:37 PM on April 4 [3 favorites]


I'm honestly kind of surprised that this article does not at any point explain just how illegal intentionally jamming RF is. It's a federal crime! Do not do it at home, unless you have a faraday cage in your basement. You can build faraday cages for fun and profit. But don't do this outdoors.
posted by BungaDunga at 12:38 PM on April 4 [8 favorites]


The viral marketing for Mr. Robot is getting out of hand.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:45 PM on April 4 [7 favorites]


If it happens, we won't be discussing it here.

We'll always have the postcard swap.
posted by Kadin2048 at 12:56 PM on April 4 [21 favorites]


The first was always “why?” Tellingly, that’s not a question I get asked anymore.

Which is a darn shame, because anyone who was around pre-Internet knows how amazing it still is despite all the terrible parts.

I suspect that many if not most people who grew up with the Internet have little concept of how different (and in many many ways poorer) their lives would be without it. I'm not even talking about social media or buying stuff online, there's an immense wealth of information available outside those walled gardens. I know way more about the world than I did before, and I'm much more politically aware - along with the downside of deep recognition of how fucked it all is of course; but without that awareness how could we even know to try to change it for the better?

One of the reasons politics seem so bad now is that the Internet has given the general public a much better insight into how corrupt and greedy politicians are that they didn't have prior to that - not on nearly the scale they do now. BUT...politics and government has always been like that, we just didn't know the depths of it. Now that that knowledge is more widespread, more people are getting motivated to try to make things better. That very probably wouldn't have happened otherwise.

The Internet is a tool, and like any tool it can be used for good or ill. I think many people see the bad parts and are too ready to throw the baby out with the bathwater.
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:59 PM on April 4 [62 favorites]


how corrupt and greedy politicians* are

*and corporations, I meant to add.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:01 PM on April 4 [4 favorites]


We'll always have the postcard swap.

And the pigeons.
posted by ZeusHumms at 1:06 PM on April 4 [3 favorites]


It’s kinda weird that he mentions the cables and just sort of wanders off.

The (US) internet centers around five hubs. Destroy the connectivity between those and you can say goodbye to anything like the internet you know and love today. Technically you could maintain connectivity, but realistically you couldn’t actually do squat.

Finding the cables is really easy (start here). You don’t need to destroy them all, just enough to isolate the major centers.

Unlike datacenters etc., huge sections of the cables are completely unguarded. You just need some backhoes and, I suppose a willingness to fend off any repair teams.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:07 PM on April 4 [4 favorites]


Which is a darn shame, because anyone who was around pre-Internet knows how amazing it still is despite all the terrible parts.

Amen. There are things I would change about the internet but there’s no way I’m giving it up.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:12 PM on April 4 [10 favorites]


(Just had an odd thought: since so much media has been pushed to the edge, you could conceivably destroy the internet proper and still be able to watch Netflix.)
posted by phooky at 1:14 PM on April 4 [8 favorites]


It's an interesting article (also good to know how illegal a lot of the DIY devices are, kind of weird they don't point it out in the article itself). I think that the actual problem and solution isn't the Internet itself as a technology, but rather the current way that the Internet is monetized by content platforms. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are all advertising networks that offer some secondary service as a way to attract eyeballs. It leads to some, uh, bad incentives and power structures. The solution to killing them seems to be more starving them of users and revenue. I'm not sure exactly how that happens other than building new platforms and changing the way that the mass public relates to Internet technology.
posted by codacorolla at 1:15 PM on April 4 [3 favorites]


Or just have several sets of backhoes positioned at several points, and scramble before repairs can be made... then cut somewhere else when they are. Probably you'd end up sparking a national manhunt, the National Guard called up to patrol otherwise insignificant wilderness, etc.
posted by BungaDunga at 1:15 PM on April 4 [4 favorites]


You just need some backhoes and, I suppose a willingness to fend off any repair teams.

I suspect if you caused enough damage to communications infrastructure to cause major disruption, those repair teams will probably be escorted by lots of people with guns. Taking those connections down is probably a lot easier than keeping them down.

But as a one time stunt where you ran away very quickly it could be pretty spectacular.
posted by a device for making your enemy change his mind at 1:17 PM on April 4 [2 favorites]


Also, the Russian spy services have clearly got fiber on their mind:
The diplomats, widely assumed to be intelligence operatives, would eventually turn up in odd places, often in middle-of-nowhere USA. One was found on a beach, nowhere near where he was supposed to be. In one particularly bizarre case, relayed by a U.S. intelligence official, another turned up wandering around in the middle of the desert. Interestingly, both seemed to be lingering where underground fiber-optic cables tend to run.
posted by BungaDunga at 1:17 PM on April 4 [17 favorites]


you could conceivably destroy the internet proper and still be able to watch Netflix

See, this is the worst-case failure mode of the whole plan. You destroy the good parts of the Internet—the globe-shrinking, people-connecting parts—but leave the shitty parts, owned by huge corporations and there to try and grab your eyeballs for as long as possible as often as possible.

A better goal might be the other way around: how could you (theoretically, of course) disrupt the big Internet companies and their walled-garden rentier platforms, while not destroying the ability for a person to call their family for near-free on the other side of the globe, or send an email to Aunt Millie or whatever?

I think this is probably not impossible if a group of people were dedicated enough. All that corporate stuff tends to live in a small number of very large datacenters. If enough of those datacenters were suddenly subject to "backhoe fade", well, it'd be like the 1996 Internet all over again… only with much, much faster connections.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:26 PM on April 4 [17 favorites]


(Just had an odd thought: since so much media has been pushed to the edge, you could conceivably destroy the internet proper and still be able to watch Netflix.)

This is actually why I'm not so concerned about throwing out the baby with the bathwater. Because, like, the baby's kind of already gone. The open internet is so much smaller than it used to be. It's already been carved up into a series of walled gardens. What people are agitating for is for the gardeners to actually pull some damned weeds once in a while.
posted by tobascodagama at 1:27 PM on April 4 [3 favorites]


Massive public demonstrations that purposefully steal content and rob the walled gardens of revenue might be effective: massive adblocking campaigns where you send screenshots of your adblocker to advertisers; large-scale drops of pirated content; hacking and releasing sensitive information from CEOs of [platform], on [platform]; disruptive bot programs that intentionally ruin advertising metrics with noise.
posted by codacorolla at 1:34 PM on April 4 [10 favorites]


I probably shouldn't be reading this while making furtive glances across the street at One Wilshire.
posted by Random_Tangent at 1:48 PM on April 4 [4 favorites]


One of the reasons politics seem so bad now is that the Internet has given the general public a much better insight into how corrupt and greedy politicians are that they didn't have prior to that - not on nearly the scale they do now. BUT...politics and government has always been like that, we just didn't know the depths of it.

I will grant you that maybe we know more about corruption at the federal level, but local newsrooms have been absolutely decimated over the past 20 years.
posted by Automocar at 1:48 PM on April 4 [9 favorites]


> Massive public demonstrations that purposefully steal content and rob the walled gardens of revenue might be effective: massive adblocking campaigns where you send screenshots of your adblocker to advertisers; large-scale drops of pirated content; hacking and releasing sensitive information from CEOs of [platform], on [platform]; disruptive bot programs that intentionally ruin advertising metrics with noise.

okay so i wish i had something more substantive to say but nevertheless i feel compelled to post my immediate response to this paragraph which was basically just:

sploosh
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 2:01 PM on April 4 [5 favorites]


my personal fantasy is writing and releasing a set of viruses that do the following:
  1. propagate themselves
  2. install robust adblockers on infected machines.
Alternately, we could sneak adblockers onto peoples’ machines via the “comet cursor” strategy: write some relatively useless applications that might seem appealing to novice users, but bundle a payload of malware with them. In this case, the “malware” would be our adblocker software.

The point is to move from our current arrangement, wherein one has to “opt out” to avoid ads and wherein doing the things required to opt out takes a modicum of techical knowhow, to an arrangement where you have to consciously choose to see ads, and doing the things required to see ads (i.e. purging your machine of viral adblockers) requires technical knowhow.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 2:08 PM on April 4 [19 favorites]


No need to blow it up. The internet is eating itself alive quite well, thank you. Soon, there will be just a gnawed, desiccated carcass, reachable only via a 300 bit/s accousic coupler.
posted by Thorzdad at 2:13 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


disruptive bot programs that intentionally ruin advertising metrics with noise.

I knew I remembered saying this before:

I am convinced that there is opportunity to make money selling a service that will, for a fee, introduce noise into your amazon, facebook, netflix, &c. accounts in order to muddy the profile that they are assembling on you.

ETA: Realizing that it was over seven years ago that we were having that conversation is really discouraging to me.
posted by gauche at 2:13 PM on April 4 [15 favorites]


to muddy the profile that they are assembling on you

Yeah, we'd all like that in theory, yadda yadda, but the benefits are pretty intangible. Nobody's going to pay for it except privacy enthusiasts, and that effectively makes it worthless, as the companies that buy and sell personal information will not observe any effect on the quality/value of their data on average, and will not be deterred from gathering it.
posted by hyperbolic at 2:22 PM on April 4 [7 favorites]


If it happens, we won't be discussing it here

We'd all have to go over to Cortex's house and have a LAN party.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 3:01 PM on April 4 [6 favorites]


We might kill the www, but the idea of the internet is something new that has got into human thought.

There seems to be a lot of ad-hoc networks around not dependant on root nodes; those Spanish patchy networks; successors to hyperborea; various meshes . I feel this has fundamentally changed human thinking.
posted by unearthed at 4:36 PM on April 4 [6 favorites]


Step 1: Burn down the AWS datacenters
Step 2: Maybe burn down the Google datacenters, to catch the long tail of people who moved their hosting to the cloud but wanted a less aesthetic hosting experience
Step 3: There is no step 3, the observable internet as you know it was just cleaved in twain and most of what you know and love is gone because no one bothers hosting their own servers in this the year of our lord 2019.
posted by Mayor West at 5:32 PM on April 4 [3 favorites]


phooky has it, I think.

Yeah, DNS is getting comparatively secured, but BGP is still kind of a hack patched together from parts found around the data center in most places.

Depending on what you mean by "destroy" and what you mean by "the internet", it's kind of hard to do. We could probably build up a circa-1995 internet out of tin cans, string, and some ham radios running packet software. On the other hand, a couple of well-placed truck bombs and carefully arranged anchor-dragging could certainly isolate large swaths of the world from each other for network communication. But as long as you've got long distance phone service working, you'll have internet-capable communication.

Messing with DNS means nobody knows where anyone is, and messing with BGP means nobody knows how to get there. So with those two, it doesn't matter how robust the physical infrastructure is, you've still broken people's ability to communicate.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:35 PM on April 4 [2 favorites]


The Internet is a tool, and like any tool it can be used for good or ill. I think many people see the bad parts and are too ready to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

This is Tim Maughan. He doesn't really like the baby either.
posted by zabuni at 5:39 PM on April 4


Well, I reckon that's his problem, because (as unearthed pointed out) that there baby is a genie that isn't likely to want to go back in the bottle.
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:49 PM on April 4


This will destroy Christmas!
posted by clavdivs at 5:55 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


But as long as you've got long distance phone service working, you'll have internet-capable communication.

IANA TelCom expert, but I believe at this point, the first is conditional on the existence of the second, not the other way around.
posted by MikeKD at 6:07 PM on April 4 [2 favorites]


Metafilter: Doesn't really like the baby either.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:29 PM on April 4 [6 favorites]


Better get to it soon, One Web has trial birds in orbit, SpaceX's Starlink is building out base stations and Bezos Project Kuiper seems to be in active development.

The simplest way would probably be sending evil banditos to the half dozen admins that have the keys to DNS and say "hit the kill button now or else" although way cooler would be building out a fleet of SPECTRE style nuclear autonomous submarines that hide in the deepest depths of the ocean and have drones that fan out and slice through all the fiber communication cables.

But the internet was designed to be self healing to survive a nuke attack you'd probably just hurt amazons sales for about a week, if that.
posted by sammyo at 6:43 PM on April 4 [3 favorites]


One could imagine disrupting (could simply buy and hoard) lowest-cost single-supplier essentials used in e.g rack systems. An anology would be auto industry where there are very few tire valve manufacturers.. what is the equivalent in data hardware.

I'm actually surprised Extinction et al aren't doing this already, but so much protest seems to need spectacle. Much better imo to kill silently, and piecemeal
posted by unearthed at 8:18 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


If you can somehow knock out Amazon, Google, Akamai, and CloudFlare; you've just knocked essentially everything offline in one way or another.

It's stupid how many things depend on a random thing running in AWS, or content cached through Akamai. Or the massive number of sites using CloudFlare.

Even my school, which runs everything on their own servers, managed to became unusable when AWS us-east-1 went down for the afternoon a couple years ago.

(there's also a possible argument for Microsoft Azure to be in this list, but Azure isn't close to the scale of the other four)
posted by zekesonxx at 8:49 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


Hmmm...

Some of you should check out The Invisible Committee. They were a French far-left group who wrote anarchist treatises, one famous for discussing the destruction of French infrastructure which became associated with the Tarnac Nine:
The group were "accused of 'criminal association for the purposes of terrorist activity' on the grounds that they were to have participated in the sabotage of overhead electrical lines on France's national railways."[8][9][b] In late October and early November 2008, horseshoe-shaped iron bars were used to obstruct power cables of the TGV railways at locations throughout France, resulting in delays for about 160 trains.[6][10][c] In particular, one instance of this occurred on November 7–8, 2008, in Dhuisy, Seine-et-Marne, near Paris.[11][12][d] On the same night, Coupat and his partner Lévy were driving in the area, under police surveillance. Three days later, the arrests were made. On April 12, 2018, following a long and complex legal case, the group were acquitted of the most serious charges brought against them, including sabotage and conspiracy, with some members being convicted on lesser charges.[13][14]
This happened to be similar to something The Invisible Commitee wrote in a book that was released in 2007:
Information and energy circulate via wire networks, fibers and channels, and these can be attacked. Nowadays sabotaging the social machine with any real effect involves reappropriating and reinventing the ways of interrupting its networks. How can a TGV line or an electrical network be rendered useless? How does one find the weak points in computer networks, or scramble radio waves and fill screens with white noise?

— The Invisible Committee, The Coming Insurrection, p. 112.[20][21]
A lot of that book, The Coming Insurrection, is just far-left anarchist theory, but these guys really don’t like the companies we’re talking about here. A synopsis of a chapter from their second book, To Our Friends, published in 2014:
Fuck Off, Google
1. As the chapter's title makes obvious, a criticism of Google runs throughout, and is attended by parallel criticisms of other major internet-based businesses, like Amazon, Facebook and Apple Inc.. However, the author(s)' main purpose is to explain current technology in a general way, as it relates to their proposed program of revolution. As one example, Twitter's roots are described in old cellphone apps which protestors used to coordinate during the 2004 Republican National Convention. It is observed that the internet and its various companies and services are supplanting traditional governments in various ways.

2. Technology companies and the big data that they use to monitor behavior are characterized as upsetting "the old dualistic Western paradigm where there is the subject and the world, the individual and society",[19] and replacing that model with (human) beings who define themselves in terms of their networks and their data.

3. The author(s) assess the modern implications for computer technology in daily life, as it relates to the revolution which they propose. Having painted a grim picture of the ubiquity of large-scale, internet-based companies like Google and Facebook, the author(s) predict that a long-term resentment against "screens" of all kinds will ultimately result in a rejection of such companies, and their products.
posted by gucci mane at 10:10 PM on April 4 [7 favorites]


anyone who was around pre-Internet knows how amazing it still is despite all the terrible parts.

...and it's only now, 9 hours later, that I realize how you kids don't know how good you've got it these days that sounds. Dammit. I guess the difference is that I'm not whining about modern technology, I'm enthusiastically embracing it and encouraging people to appreciate its good parts.

Because yeah, it was shit back in the Pre-Web Times. I hated having to trudge to the library, uphill both ways, in the snow, just to look at magazines and newspapers for free and find out stuff like "what was that quote from that movie". And borrowing physical copies of books and movies you then had to schlep back home like a chump (uphill in the snow, mind you).
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:22 PM on April 4 [5 favorites]


And all without a GPS!! Hrmph.
posted by Greg_Ace at 10:24 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


I figure Zoe Quinn has the best reason of anyone to want the internet destroyed, and she doesn't want the internet destroyed, so I guess we have to do the harder work of making the internet a nice play to be again.

Then again, she is basically a real-life cyberpunk.
posted by Merus at 10:50 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


BGP basically only works because its administrators (usually) don't screw up its configuration. Since route preference is arbitrarily configurable, it's pretty easy to introduce routing cycles if you're not careful. I once even proved it mathematically. Interestingly, a hypothetical version of BGP with multipathing still exhibits this flaw under the right conditions.
posted by axiom at 11:39 PM on April 4 [1 favorite]


I hated having to trudge to the library

Airline reservations. Oh my dear lord airline reservations.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:59 AM on April 5 [3 favorites]


Could you guys give me a heads-up before blowing up the net? I'll have to figure out how to download Wikipedia and my music first.
posted by Harald74 at 6:00 AM on April 5 [1 favorite]


I mean....are we asking permission or?
posted by Young Kullervo at 6:40 AM on April 5


phooky: "you could conceivably destroy the internet proper and still be able to watch Netflix."

Isn't that Netflix's business model, in a nutshell?
posted by chavenet at 6:50 AM on April 5


(Just had an odd thought: since so much media has been pushed to the edge, you could conceivably destroy the internet proper and still be able to watch Netflix.)

Only the shit that's cached on your neighborhood's Akamai server.

Do you want to know what your neighbors like to watch ?
posted by ocschwar at 7:02 AM on April 5 [1 favorite]


Given the small number of corps involved and the ways they treat workers, you could probably destabilize BGP at scale with promises like "after the revolution, every saboteur gets paid on-call or no on-call, free childcare, and an office of your own with a door."

If we were considering illegal direct action to reduce corporate control of the internet, I feel like it'd be easier to recruit the people behind the Borg (Google-internal K8s) and its weaker, more fragile counterparts than do anything with backhoes or RF.
posted by bagel at 7:28 AM on April 5


Admittedly, Google does have a less evil approach to on-call than Akamai or AWS, and I don't have a ton of CloudFlare's gory details, but I feel like these companies are betting really enormous chunks of the internet on the position that their employees don't believe better labor conditions are possible or worth pursuing.
posted by bagel at 7:32 AM on April 5 [2 favorites]


>> (Just had an odd thought: since so much media has been pushed to the edge,
>> you could conceivably destroy the internet proper and still be able to watch Netflix.)
>
>Only the shit that's cached on your neighborhood's Akamai server.
>

There is also the matter of account verification and billing. It’s not clear to me how much of that Netflix would want to cache, so you may have a very short period to access that content.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 7:39 AM on April 5


I feel like these companies are betting really enormous chunks of the internet on the position that their employees don't believe better labor conditions are possible or worth pursuing.

I'd say it's more like they're betting that they can just call the cops instead of having to hire Pinkertons.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:47 AM on April 5 [2 favorites]


On further consideration, even without sabotage and even with infinite scabs, I'm not sure how long we'd have between "internet infrastructure workers strike" (ops/SRE/network/platform/etc) and "widespread internet outages."

Getting people trained on that stuff is slow and a ton of it is underfunded, underdocumented, monitored by human eyes, maintained by human hands, and just barely works. If everyone walked away from their open office workstations or out of their datacenters right now, I feel like we might notice it in days if not hours.

you have nothing to lose but your SLAs.
posted by bagel at 8:27 AM on April 5


(and the people whose compensation is unconnected to SLA or other performance indicators beyond "don't screw it up or you're fired" don't even have that)
posted by bagel at 8:28 AM on April 5 [1 favorite]


I hated having to trudge to the library

I remember standing in a Blockbuster trying to decide and thinking "I wish there was an easy way to look up reviews for these movies".

Reader, that wish was granted, but not before I stopped going to Blockbuster.
posted by achrise at 9:37 AM on April 5 [2 favorites]


axiom: BGP basically only works because its administrators (usually) don't screw up its configuration.
So true. A couple of times I've hosed a BGP change and only through the blessing of upstream filters has it not briefly resulted in, eg, advertising my AS as a path to the entire internet. I mean, not for *long*, because I always check the advertised routes after a change, but, yeah, we'd have noticed...
posted by rmd1023 at 9:45 AM on April 5 [1 favorite]


I realize this is not a popular opinion, but I am an IT worker and AWS admin born in the late 60s and managed to survive:

* Through high school grade 11 with no computer
* Through HS graduation with no email (except for an internal VAX system)
* Through college graduation and calculus IV with no graphing calculator
* Through college graduation rarely if ever using my allotted email address
* Through grad school with no cell phone of any kind

I am a total nerd and love gaming, sci-fi and various related topics. However, I often think "What if the internet went away?" Not just the corporate-owned current internet/web, but back to how I experienced life before all this stuff was ubiquitous. Other than my -- well -- exact job, I think it would be fine. For me personally it would mean:

* having to write letters again
* not getting to consume any media I want any time
* not dicking around on mobile games till I'm way too tired
* not instantly knowing the answer to every trivia dispute
* having to call people on the phone or visit them
* people not knowing what I just ate, or where I went on vacation, or what I think of media property X (because really, I don't give a shit if you don't know about my vacation. It was for me!)
* not knowing some random shock news right away, like that a guy got murdered in Austria, or that a teenager in DC was rude to a guy.
* paper bills!
* cash money!


I mean ... that's about it. The problem would mainly be in untangling all the transitions to where we are, many of which feel like they've been made one-way. I think it would be pretty much OK. I enjoy a lot of the stuff in that list but I can't say my life is richer for it.
posted by freecellwizard at 1:10 PM on April 5 [2 favorites]


I mean ... that's about it.

I repeat, airline tickets. Or travel reservations in general. Particularly where you don’t speak the language.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:33 PM on April 5 [2 favorites]


Counterpoint:

I'm just a tad older than freecellwizard and been in IT since the late 80's; due to one thing and another I had neither cellphone nor Internet until my late 30's.

* having to write letters again

Ending up almost totally out of touch with friends in places I used to live.

* not getting to consume any media I want any time
* not dicking around on mobile games till I'm way too tired

Not wasting time browsing memes or watching funny YouTube videos - ok, fair point.

* not instantly knowing the answer to every trivia dispute

Lack of access to useful knowledge materials and tutorials.

* having to call people on the phone or visit them

I do this anyway....

* people not knowing what I just ate, or where I went on vacation, or what I think of media property X (because really, I don't give a shit if you don't know about my vacation. It was for me!)

N/A ...

* not knowing some random shock news right away, like that a guy got murdered in Austria, or that a teenager in DC was rude to a guy.

As I mentioned in my previous post, lack of distribution of needed awareness of national and global events.

* paper bills!
* cash money!


Relatively minor inconveniences, and kind of beside my central point.
posted by Greg_Ace at 1:34 PM on April 5


no internet would collapse modern science. Who even has physical copies of journals anymore?

It would also collapse all modern supply chains. See: when NotPetya deleted Maersk, which only ended up okay because they were able to laboriously get their corporate network back online.
posted by BungaDunga at 3:21 PM on April 5 [3 favorites]


“Hack the Planet!”

alt.pave.the.earth
posted by rokusan at 3:32 PM on April 5 [2 favorites]


I'm wondering how many coders would be willing to give up Stack Overflow. Not just, can't ask questions, but having to rely on documentation again.
posted by Merus at 2:27 AM on April 7


I'm wondering how many coders would be willing to give up Stack Overflow. Not just, can't ask questions, but having to rely on documentation again.

I’m game. For starters it would mean that packages that were never documented in the first place would be unviable. And it would force coders to actually understand the packages they used.

Upon reflection however, mostly what it would do is get these kids off my lawn.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:33 AM on April 7 [3 favorites]


For starters it would mean that packages that were never documented in the first place would be unviable.

I feel like I'm younger than you and even I know that there's no reality where a package without documentation is unviable.
posted by Merus at 5:52 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]


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