Red Spidering Wikipedia

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Occasionally websites are overwhelmed by the amount of traffic they receive. This is often the result of a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack in which thousands of computers all try to connect to the website at once. However, sometimes it happens as a result of a popular site (one with millions of visitors) linking directly to a much smaller site, unprepared to deal with the traffic.

This is sometimes called the Slashdot Effect for the popular metablog, Slashdot, although other phrases like being “Farked,” “Drudged” or “Wanged” are also common. Slashdotting can overwhelm a server, or it could just represent a large increase in traffic. What I found interesting recently was that the comic xkcd produced a similar bump in traffic, but without a link. This comic from a few months ago referenced the Voynich Manuscript, a 15th century undeciphered illustrated book.

xkcd is known for a geeky following, but this was a bit too obscure. Wikirank shows a 10,000% increase in wikipedia traffic.

I’d call this indirect effect “red spidering” or “a velociraptor attack.”


Infinite Failure meets Unbounded Optimism

Saturday, July 18, 2009

I've been participating in Infinite Summer, a challenge to read David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest during 2009's 13 weeks of summer. I greatly enjoyed his nonfiction books, A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again and Consider the Lobster, so I figured I'd give Infinite Jest a chance. Here's the rub: it's more than 1,000 pages long.

Infinite Summer set up a schedule to help people get through it (as well as some great content guides and guest posts by authors, professors, etc.). My problem is that after a strong start, I seem to be falling behind (a real problem, with constant reminers from my friends on Twitter using #infsum).

I'm falling behind at my current rate, and slowing down: a deadly combination. Nevertheless, my Infinite (-related) Failure can be overcome by Unbounded Optimism today (and every day that I haven't yet caught up)....


Twitter is Addictive OR Public Commitment Dooms the Outcome

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I noticed a while back that my Twitter usage was following a very predictable upward swing, thanks to the enlightening data-driven TweetStats. That’s basically a full year of upward trending. I’ve never been so consistent about anything.

I increased my Twitter usage because my network grew (more time spent with the app), I got in the habit of posting more (better at tweeting, and better at thinking to myself, “I should tweet this), and because I expanded my usage (more @ responses and more direct messages).

Sometimes people want to restrict their Twitter usage. For instance, in April Amy Senger (@sengseng) said she wanted to tweet less to spend more time with the real world. There may have been some problems with this statement, though. First, “tweet less” turned out to describe a trend, not a decision. Second, her method (Reducing followers to reduce @ responses) didn’t address the urge to tweet. The result? An initial commitment that gradually fades.

Perhaps the public commitment to tweeting less was the act that doomed the outcome (and it seems especially true given that usage decreased right up until the moment of public declaration). Then again, maybe Twitter’s just too addictive to quit.


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