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IM doing fine

Instant messaging comes to cellphones at last

4 min read

Instant messaging has been a major desktop application for a decade. But it’s potentially even better when you’re on the go, which is why wireless carriers in the United States are beginning to offer it.

It’s clear why customers would sometimes prefer IM to text ­messaging. Besides the back-and-forth dialogue format, you get to pick your contact from a short list of buddies instead of the longer one for all your contacts. Best of all, the buddy list shows who’s online and whether they’re available, a feature called ”presence.” Such information is already built into some corporate e-mail ­applications, and it’s clear it will ­eventually make its way to all cellphones.

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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
An illustration of a series
Carl De Torres

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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