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We live in a consumption society. The numbers are staggering, whether it’s how many cellphones and plastic bottles we discard, cigarettes we smoke, paper and plastic bags we use at the supermarket, or painkillers we pop. How can we imagine the quantities involved?

If you’re Seattle artist Chris Jordan, you pick a number, such as the number of cell phones that are retired in the United States every day, and figure out a way to show all 426 000 of them. Here, each speck of grey represents a phone, clearly visible in the original 150 cm x 275 cm picture.

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Why the Internet Needs the InterPlanetary File System

Peer-to-peer file sharing would make the Internet far more efficient

12 min read
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Carl De Torres
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When the COVID-19 pandemic erupted in early 2020, the world made an unprecedented shift to remote work. As a precaution, some Internet providers scaled back service levels temporarily, although that probably wasn’t necessary for countries in Asia, Europe, and North America, which were generally able to cope with the surge in demand caused by people teleworking (and binge-watching Netflix). That’s because most of their networks were overprovisioned, with more capacity than they usually need. But in countries without the same level of investment in network infrastructure, the picture was less rosy: Internet service providers (ISPs) in South Africa and Venezuela, for instance, reported significant strain.

But is overprovisioning the only way to ensure resilience? We don’t think so. To understand the alternative approach we’re championing, though, you first need to recall how the Internet works.

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