Overconvolution

The Fall 2009 semester is almost over for me, and the time has now come for my nearly-finished-with-exams post. Thank goodness things have mostly wound down. Sometimes I feel like I am killing myself each time I forego sleep to finish a paper or study for an exam. The human brain can only handle so much tension.

By the way, is it just me, or is the internet getting slower? I used to hear the doomsayers talk about such a possibility in the past, and I assumed they were hyping yet another silly nonexistent problem. They would state that the physical infrastructure of the internet (I guess meaning wires and stuff) could not handle the rapidly increasing amount of data conveyed. They were referring to the higher number of pictures, video files, audio files, and web sites cropping up each day.

And while I certainly do not believe the government has any role in solving this problem, as some alarmists mentioned, the internet does seem to be slower. Navigating to my facebook profile, for example, sometimes takes about nine seconds. Wikipedia often seems even worse. The problem seems to oscillate over time, such that certain websites (and blogs) get really slow at some points but later run rather fast. Also, Google always seems to run quickly, faster than more complicated websites like Yahoo. Youtube used to run efficiently, but many of their videos now download incredibly slowly.

I have performed a bandwidth test and my connnection seemed fine. At least, the rate of data conveyance was fine. I think the problem may not be the rate but rather the quantity.

Like computers in general, the internet becomes increasingly complicated. The average computer today probably has maybe a 1.5 gHz processor and about 2.5 GB of RAM. Just imagine how brilliantly fast a computer could have run with those capabilities about fifteen years ago. Likewise, websites nowadays feel the need to cram more and more information and graphics per pixel. (A while back, I described part of this phenomenon somewhat jokingly.) High-speed internet used to give you high speed. Now, it just gives you mediocre speed…but lots more stuff.

It seems like this overcomplication represents an overall human tendency. Even when life is essentially good the way it is, people fail to utilize technological improvements merely to enhance basic comfort (i.e., speed), but would instead rather make everything exotic and overly complex. For example, people who obtain money frequently feel the need to adopt expensive new habits that ultimately make their lives even more stressful. (And do not even get me started on the convolution — rather than enhanced precision — of government!) Regarding computers, society certainly gets what it asks for in the end. But in my mind, society is asking for some of the wrong things.

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