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Rethinking Radio

A novel changes my perception of radio waves

2 min read
Rethinking Radio
Illustration: Brian Stauffer

As an engineer, I found the current best-selling novel All the Light We Cannot See nostalgic and thought provoking. The story is about a young German boy, Werner, and a blind French girl, Marie-Laure, during the German occupation of France in 1939.

Before I read the book I assumed that the title had to do with the blindness of Marie-Laure, but instead the title refers to radio waves, as illustrated by this passage from the book: “What do we call visible light? We call it color. But the electromagnetic spectrum runs to zero in one direction and infinity in the other, so really, children, all of light is invisible.”

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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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An illustration of a series
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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