Watch carefully when you turn on your computer tomorrow. If everything goes according to plan, you won’t notice a thing, even though large parts of the Internet will be going through a test run for its next stage: Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6), a new system to ensure that the Web doesn’t run out of addresses.
On June 8, search and content giants including Google, Facebook, and Yahoo! will make their websites available over the new system — while your hardware and browser need to be able to set up to view them as well, it’s effectively the largest test yet of the new set of standards.
Scientific American puts it a bit differently, asking, “Will the Internet Stop on June 8?”
The answer is a tad more reassuring than the headline.
Most likely the transition will go smoothly. All but the oldest computers and phones can handle both schemes, although the IPv6 option may not be turned on. Old DSL modems or cable modems may not be compatible, says Geoff Huston, chief scientist for the Asia Pacific Network Information Center. In these cases, if you try to access an IPv6 address, you will either experience a delay or never connect.
I still have no idea what the hell any of this means, so I say PANIC! This is it, people. Start hoarding your kitty videos and whatever particular kind of porn does it for you. Print out your Twitter witticisms and Tumblr confessions, because starting tomorrow THE INTERNET IS OVER. Some day you will tell the generations yet unborn about this magical place where we all came together to share our bad puns about Anthony Weiner’s junk. We passed along clips of finger-biting babies. We Google bombed. (God, remember Google bombing?) And then, just like that, it all ended. We went back to reading newspapers and having actual physical interactions. We went to restaurants to actually eat a meal, not because we wanted a “badge.” Whatever coupons we tendered required the use of scissors to retrieve. We talked on the phone. And even though we occasionally looked back fondly, we mostly went on with our lives, happier and more rested than we were before. Okay, probably not. But isn’t it pretty to think so?