The Triumph of the Light; January 2001; Scientific American Magazine; by Gary Stix; 6 Page(s)
Was it Britney Spears or Fatboy Slim? The network administrators at Kent State University had not a clue. All they did know last February was that "Rockafeller Skank" and thousands of other downloading hits had gotten intermingled with e-mails from the provost and research data on genetic engineering of E. coli bacteria. The university network slowed to a crawl, triggering a decision to block access to Napster, the music file-sharing utility.
As demand for network capacity soars, the Napster craze may mark the opening of only the first of many floodgates. Venture capitalists, in fact, have wagered billions of dollars on technologies that may help telecommunications companies counter the prospect that a video Napster capable of downloading anything from Birth of a Nation to Rocky IV might bring down the entire Internet.