Tokyo Toshokan ~ On the fragility of anime ‘Net infrastructure
July 19, 2012
For the past week or so an important piece of the Internet infrastructure that makes it possible for me to review anime has been disabled. Tokyo Toshokan, for those who don’t know, is a torrent tracker that is especially good for locating anime torrents. While the loss of this resource didn’t prevent me from watching anime, it did make it more difficult. That in itself is not a big deal, but the thing about this situation that worries me is that a week later there is basically no information about the nature of the problem, or whether it can be resolved.
I did locate this comment online, via a Korean website:
At this time, tokyotosho,info is down. We are trying our darndest to bring it back up. From what it appears, it looks to be some sort of server issue and we are waiting for the datacenter staff to take a look at it.
Should this information even be trusted? I could post what I claim to be a translation, saying that the owners got bored and have stopped maintaining the site. One way to verify the truth — or at least have greater certainty about the source of information would be to get it more directly from those involved. Despite the presence of many Tokyo Toshokan related twitter accounts, none of them have chosen to comment on the current outage.
My intention here is not to spread rumors or conspiracy theories. What I am trying to do is point out the extreme fragility of the online anime viewing culture. Much of the online anime culture is fan-produced. This often means there are no plans in place to address resilience issues (what do we do to identify a disruption in service? How do we diagnose the cause of a disruption in service? What do we do to resume service as quickly as possible? What is our plan for communicating our status to those that use our service?). These issues can be non-trivial, and I have seen even professional organizations that have not taken them seriously, or that have attempted to tackle them, but really didn’t know how. It is not impossible for even fan-produced services to have some kind of continuity plan in place. Doing so would decrease the fragility of our online anime culture.