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The Events of 11 September

The many roles of technology

5 min read

In this special web report, the editors of IEEE Spectrum, from offices only 4 km northeast of the World Trade Center, look at some of the stories behind the headlines of the events of 11 September.

We consider the long-anticipated use of weapons of mass destruction versus the actual use of commercial aircraft as bombs; the New York City Emergency Operations Center, helplessly located right in the World Trade Center; the daunting task of bringing the stock exchanges back on line only six days after the loss to personnel and facilities; broadcast television and radio transmission, also centralized at ground zero; and lastly, why U.S. anti-aircraft capabilities didn’t do what weaponless passengers did above western Pennsylvania–bring down any of the terrorist-controlled planes.

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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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