Feb 07, 2011 12:00AM

Damn It, We Killed the Internet


RIP, worldwide superhighway. So, there is a finite number of IP addresses in the world, which are assigned to servers and websites and devices with online access. The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) gives these addresses to regional bodies to distribute, but gave away their remaining ones last Thursday, which means the only IP addresses left in the ENTIRE WORLD will be assigned soon. Soon there will be no more room and the Internet will suffocate. To death.

In case you can only understand a concept when it is compared to fruit, CBC has this patronising analogy:

Or, to put it another way, imagine we're talking about apples. Delicious tasty apples.

Let's say I run a giant apple farm, and I'm in charge of the apple supply for the whole world. I divide up all the apples. I send some apples to Europe, to Africa, to Latin America, to North America and to the Asia-Pacific. These apples go to a warehouse, where they're distributed to markets and grocery stores and bodegas. Finally, they end up in your fridge.

If I suddenly shut down the world's supply of apples, there wouldn't be an immediate effect, because there'd still be some apples in the warehouses, there'd still be apples in the grocery stores, and there might still be apples in your fridge.

What is the opposite of confused? Because that is how you must be feeling after that stunning metaphor. To understand this analogy, imagine we're talking about apples. You think your audience won't comprehend the concept of apples, so instead of talking about apples, you talk about oranges.


Forbes called this crisis "The End of the Internet As We Know It", so things are pretty dire. It's often said that the most important thing to do in a disaster such as this is to lay blame. So start writing your letters (not emails, silly, the Internet is broken) to the following groups of people:

1) Anyone who bought a web-enabled fridge, because that was a ridiculous consumer decision that wasted a valuable IP address.

2) The Internet Assigned Numbers Authority. If you have the last lot of IP addresses in the world, don't just give them away willy-nilly. You could auction them off, donate them to a great cause, save them in case of emergencies or whatever (I obviously have a great grasp on how this whole thing works) - just don't give them to us, the very people who think lolcats, Tom Selleck, cheesy celebrities, Yahoo! Answers and The Most Amazing Website On The Internet are good uses of IP addresses.

3) Microsoft, because Bing is like someone saw an apple and tried to make an apple without any of the ingredients used to make apples. This apple analogy sure is handy.

4) The geniuses who saw this problem coming, created a new system (IPv6 instead of IPv4) in the nineties, but didn't do anything about implementing it until now.

The other important thing to do in a disaster is freak out so much your knees fall off, so I would recommend getting inside your panic room and not coming out.

I would also recommend not getting your technical knowledge from a fashion magazine.

Words: Madeleine Atkins