Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Monday 23/06/2006Could it be better? Niue is a small Pacific island with sun, surf, palm trees...

Monday 23/06/2006
Could it be better? Niue is a small Pacific island with sun, surf, palm trees... and now, free island-wide Wi-Fi. The two thousand inhabitants -- and anyone who turns up on a yacht -- can now not only lounge in the shade sipping refreshing drinks and lazily listening to the waves, but they can fire up the laptop and surf for real. Paradise. Until the weapon too deadly to use found out about it. The monstrous hive-mind called Slashdot.org caught wind of this story, and as is its wont went looking for some exotic Web site on the island to find out more. You don't get much bandwidth coming into a place like that, and in less time than it takes to stroke a coconut the links were saturated beyond endurance. This could be the first time Slashdot has knocked an entire nation off the Net, and while I'm not sure international convention allows action by a worldwide collective of argumentative nerds to be construed as an act of war, stranger things have happened. Ironically, Niue has done rather well out of the Web so far. Its domain name, .nu, has proved very popular -- especially in Scandinavian countries where nu means 'new' -- and the country has been quick to commercialise the distribution of reassuringly expensive domain registrations. Most of these are hosted in Europe or America, of course -- but Slashdot's fearsome efficiency managed to hunt down one of the few genuine local sites. People worry about exotic tourism ruining nature's bounty. Perhaps Lonely Planet should start doing a Web guide.

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