Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Busy Signals Are Clogging Up Cyberspace

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Busy Signals Are Clogging Up Cyberspace

Article excerpt

Dave Hughes, an on-line pioneer otherwise known as the Cursor Cowboy, posted this slogan on his Old Colorado City computer bulletin board back in the days when only a few thousand digital diehards roamed the byways of cyberspace:

"You're never alone

"When you hear that modem tone."

That's generally true still, but hearing the distinctive bleep-blurp modem sound that says you're on-line is no longer a guarantee of instant access to interactive communications.

Yesteryear's wide-open electronic frontier has become an on-line megalopolis sometimes locked in virtual traffic jams - gridlock in cyberspace.

And you can blame cyberhype for today's cyberlock. The increasingly meaningless phrase "information superhighway" has become the mother of all cliches even as teeming millions more rush to join the crowds on-line.

Suddenly we're learning that the same thing happens in cyberspace that happens in regular space when things get crowded. Things slow down. Traffic cops are needed. Nerves get frayed.

Ask the poor souls who try to log on to America Online during peak traffic hours and trigger the hugely successful service's new automated hang-up-on-the-caller feature designed to limit the number of people using AOL's machines at any one time.

Ask the folk who get on-line with CompuServe, type something like "go graphics" and hit the return key and then sit there wondering if they should hit "return" again when nothing happens because the service's computers are handling requests from thousands of other users.

Ask the new users of the Delphi Internet service who finally find the coveted address for downloading a wonderful file at some obscure university's minicomputer only to be told something like, "host connection failed, too many calls."

Ask the Chicagoans who dial up the GEnie service and get absolutely no response when the connection is made. …

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