Seeing the internet

I have seen the internet for the first time and it feels a little like seeing the first pictures of the Earth from space. I visited Paul Sagan from Akamai, here in Boston, who manage the flow of 20% of the internet’s traffic worldwide – and their command centre there with giant screens of data routes on a turning world, with arrays of statistics on the millions of people shopping at retail sites or picking up news.

Paul Sagan himself turns out to be a wonderful consumer advocate, in what he describes as the new ‘demand economy’ – where power has changed hands from companies to customers. If webpages do not download on a site within four seconds, he tells me, we now go elsewhere. Eighteen months ago, it was seven… our expectations are rising and we will ditch companies that won’t keep up.   

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