off-topic: historical query concerning the Internet bubble
jyy_99 at yahoo.com
Fri Aug 6 21:52:11 UTC 2010
I have a concern that your posting and your paper mix UUNet traffic with the
Internet traffic. I personally was very much involved in the ISP world (was
working for Tier1 ISPs) during the period and I’d like to point out the
UUNet’s (or any other individual network’s) traffic does NOT equal to the
Internet traffic, even at that time!
I was working at ANSnet and later UUnet due to a three party acquisition deal
between AOL, WorldCom and CompuServe during that time period. I did hear
presentations about network traffic being doubling every 100 days by O’Dell but
my understanding was that he was referring to UUnet’s traffic not the Internet
At the time, the Tier 1 ISPs included UUNet, MCI Network, Sprint Network,
ANSnet, etc. Each ISP could only collect network traffic stats on its own
backbone and there was no one entity could collect the entire Internet traffic.
For this reason, the prediction by O’Dell could only be based on UUNet’s traffic
stats. I really doubt that O’Dell would say the Internet traffic doubling
every 100 days rather than saying that of UUNet’s traffic. I’d encourage you
to do some research to find out if he was really referring to the Internet
traffic or just UUNet traffic. The reference listed by your paper showed that
he was saying ‘network traffic’ not ‘Internet traffic.’
I do not know if making such distinction would alter the conclusion of your
paper. But, to me, there is a difference between one to predict the growth of
one particular network based on the stats collected than one to predict the
growth of the entire Internet with no solid data.
From: Andrew Odlyzko <odlyzko at umn.edu>
To: nanog at nanog.org
Sent: Thu, August 5, 2010 11:38:38 AM
Subject: off-topic: historical query concerning the Internet bubble
Apologies for intruding with this question, but I can't think
of any group that might have more concrete information relevant
to my current research.
Enclosed below is an announcement of a paper on technology bubbles.
It is based largely on the Internet bubble of a decade ago, and
concentrates on the "Internet traffic doubling every 100 days" tale.
As the paper shows, this myth was perceived in very different ways
by different people, and this by itself helps undermine the foundations
of much of modern economics and economic policy making.
To get a better understanding of the dynamics of that bubble, to assist
in the preparation of a book about that incident, I am soliciting information
from anyone who was active in telecom during that period. I would particularly
like to know what you and your colleagues estimated Internet traffic growth to
be, and what your reaction was to the O'Dell/Sidgmore/WorldCom/UUNet myth. If
you were involved in the industry,
and never heard of it, that would be extremely useful to know, too.
Ideally, I would like concrete information, backed up by dates, and possibly
even emails, and a permission to quote this information. However, I will
settle for more informal comments, and promise confidentiality to anyone
who requests it.
odlyzko at umn.edu
Bubbles, gullibility, and other challenges for economics,
psychology, sociology, and information sciences
School of Mathematics
and Digital Technology Center
University of Minnesota
odlyzko at umn.edu
Preliminary version, August 5, 2010
Gullibility is the principal cause of bubbles. Investors and the general
public get snared by a "beautiful illusion" and throw caution to the wind.
Attempts to identify and control bubbles are complicated by the fact that the
authorities who might naturally be expected to take action have often
(especially in recent years) been among the most gullible, and were cheerleaders
for the exuberant behavior. Hence what is needed is an objective measure of
This paper argues that it should be possible to develop such a measure.
Examples demonstrate, contrary to the efficient market dogma, that in some
manias, even top-level business and technology leaders do fall prey to
collective hallucinations and become irrational in objective terms. During the
Internet bubble, for example, large classes of them first became unable to
comprehend compound interest, and then lost even the ability to do simple
arithmetic, to the point of not being able to distinguish 2 from 10. This
phenomenon, together with advances in analysis of social networks and related
areas, points to possible ways to develop objective and quantitative tools for
measuring gullibility and other aspects of human behavior implicated in
bubbles. It cannot be expected to infallibly detect all destructive bubbles,
and may trigger false alarms, but it ought to alert observers to periods where
collective investment behavior is becoming irrational.
The proposed gullibility index might help in developing realistic economic
models. It should also assist in illuminating and guiding decision making.
If you would like to be on the mailing list for notifications of future
papers on technology bubbles, please send me a note at odlyzko at umn.edu
The previous three papers in this series are available at:
1. Collective hallucinations and inefficient markets: The British Railway Mania
of the 1840s
2. This time is different: An example of a giant, wildly speculative, and
successful investment mania, B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, vol.
10, issue 1, 2010, article 60 (registration required)
preprint available at:
3. The collapse of the Railway Mania, the development of capital markets, and
Robert Lucas Nash, a forgotten pioneer of accounting and financial analysis
Source materials for the Railway Mania and the Internet bubble are available
at the web pages
More information about the NANOG