NetworkWorld has a cover story on the stress that social networking sites like MySpace put on DNS servers. Pages on MySpace point to content all over the internet, causing browsers to perform dozens, sometimes hundreds of DNS lookups per page. That combined with the popularity of social networking sites has threatened the performance of DNS servers. Some, including the Department of Defense, have blocked access to these sites.
The article includes comments from Travis Berkley, supervisor of LAN support services at the University of Kansas. Faculty, staff and students generate an average of 20,000 visits a day. Kansas didn’t have to update their DNS servers, though. They’re running BIND version 9 software, which apparently handles the load comfortably. The article also notes that Kansas limits how much internet bandwidth students can consume from their rooms, which probably also helps. Does limiting bandwidth reduce the number of DNS lookups? Other than slowing the rate at which pages are loading, I would think this would be true only if the limited bandwidth caused students to use the internet less.
The challenge is that more social networking sites are coming, many integrating new kinds of media. Just yesterday I received an invite from Intellagirl (thanks!) to Pownce, yet another social networking site. Pownce is like Twitter: you create a network of friends, all of whom can read and respond to short messages, or microcontent as Bryan Alexander calls it. Twitter restricts you to 140 characters; I’ve never made use of TinyURL until I met Twitter. Pownce seems to allow longer messages. They also allow for other types of microcontent, including links, events and files.
I’m waiting for my social network to sign up for Pownce. At this moment I have fewer than five friends there, and that’s not enough to sustain conversation. If you’d like an invite to Pownce, let me know and I’ll send an invite so long as I have any left.
One annoying bit about Pownce is the inline advertising. Pownce inserts advertising messages at random points in your message stream. Not good. I can pay $20/year to make the ads stop, but unless my social network decides to use Pownce over Twitter, I’m more likely to abandon Pownce.
Another bit about Pownce that I’m not crazy about is the Pownce client. They’ve built an application to deliver Pownce content to my desktop, but it runs on a new Adobe technology called AIR. I don’t know why I had to install the AIR framework to get my Pownce content, but the real issue is that Pownce doesn’t seem to be opening their APIs. That means there won’t be any innovation around the site other than what the company comes up with itself.
Hopefully they’ll get smart and open up their APIs. In the meantime I’m keeping an eye open, hoping to be impressed, but ready to walk away if it doesn’t tip.