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Ask HN: Should society practice for an internet outage?
3 points by mojomark 47 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 3 comments
Given the possibility of a solar flare or EMP, I wonder if "we" should take a day each year to practice not having the internet. Thoughts?

Computers are so beefy now that I could download the parts of the internet I use regularly, and it still wouldn't put a dent in my hard drive. I think the entirety of Stack Overflow and Wikipedia is only a few gigs.

Finding what I'm looking for is still a challenge though. I tried taking those offline a few years ago using YaCy, which didn't work so well. Maybe elasticsearch? People say nice things about it.

That's interesting; I hadn't thought about the angle of losing access to "look-up" resources, which I too rely heavily on. I'd never have guessed stack or Wikipedia would be small enough to download locally.

I was actually thinking more in terms of the more passive items we rely on that would be knocked out by a solar flare similar to the Carrington Solar event of the 1850's (1).

For intance, a lot of people have gone completely digital. TV/local news is through the internet (no analog antenna), phones are cellular (no analog phone), banking is digital (no cash, checks, or now plastic cards) and so forth. And society is starting to meld around the assumption that the internet is ALWAYS up and running, so we feel safer working remotely, living further from hospitals, access to prescription drugs, or brick and mortar banks. There are a number of these weird little reliances that have emerged, not to mention things we rely on that we're not directly involved with as individuals (e.g. smart power grid management, complex logistics systems that govern land/sea/air global trade, banking, systems that manage hospitals/medical records).

I'm not even sure it's possible for the internet to shut down for an hour, let alone a day without wreaking havoc of societal stability.

Shouldn't we be practicing for such an event - just in case? Maybe 1 day a year?

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carrington_Event

Internet will probably be fine. The backbone is fiber, the better part of the last-mile is shielded coax, and the switches are usually nice well-grounded metal boxes. No expert on the power grid though.

The importance of this is much higher than the DR angle. Moving digital life back into our own equipment, and away from the valley's all-seeing eye, is vital to the future of mankind.

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