The Day the Internet Died

An Offline Camp passion talk from John Kleinschmidt

For many of us, poor connectivity is an occasional nuisance endured with much frustration and silent protest on our commuter trains. But in the developing world, infrastructure issues are an everyday obstacle to internet access. As VP of Technology Innovation at CURE International and lead developer of HospitalRun, John Kleinschmidt employs Offline First solutions to create healthcare information systems that support communities with limited or occasional connectivity. In his passion talk at Offline Camp California, John shared with us a fictional story about a worldwide internet-free future and asked us to consider its consequences.

Read John’s full story below:

The Day The Internet Died
April 21st, 2018 will always be remembered as the day the internet died. How exactly it happened, no one knew for sure, but there were lots of theories. Some believed it was a rogue nation who was trying to control the Internet for their own nefarious reasons and their hacking went too far. Still others believed it was a response to the result of the 2016 US election by those who felt the wrong candidate was selected.* There were even some crackpot theories about how some hackers used animals to somehow carry out an attack that eventually took it down.
Whatever the cause, the world changed dynamically. Everything seems so disconnected now. Most telephone service is offline as it was unfortunately relying too much on the internet backbone. Smart phones simply became portable computers. The worldwide economy took an incredible nose dive, with tech being hit the hardest. Sure, there were those lucky few who were still employed trying to fix the problem, but in most places tech unemployment was at least 95%.
But it wasn’t all bad. People started talking to each other more in real life because they could no longer reach their “friends” or “followers” with the tap-tap-tap of their now disconnected phone.
Speaking of those phones, it turned out they weren’t completely useless. Some apps and websites still worked; albeit in offline mode. And this is where hope began to build. All those unemployed tech workers now with suddenly lots of free time started coming up with ways to connect the “offline web.” Bluetooth was a natural starting point and things took off from there.
Things will never be the same, but I think in some ways we are better off. No one takes the internet for granted anymore because it’s not there. We will build a smarter and more resilient internet and this time we will build all of the web for Offline First.

(*) This fictional story was written and performed prior to the 2016 US election and isn’t meant to reflect on its real-world results.

Editor’s Note: Participants at Offline Camps have diverse backgrounds and interests, ranging far beyond the Offline First approach that we come together to discuss. Through short passion talks, campers share with us some of the hobbies, projects, and technologies that excite them. We offer you this taste of that passion for as a preview to our upcoming events. Learn more at the camp website or follow us on Twitter for updates.