If the avian influenza virus, H5N1, ever gets around to mutating into a lethal and virulent form that can be passed on readily from one person to another, then we will be facing a pandemic. Of course, as some observers have pointed out, mainly those without a vested interest in scaremongering, the process of mutation would more than likely lead to a strain of the disease that was not so commonly lethal in people, just as it is not commonly lethal in the natural wild bird hosts.
Anyway, if and when a pandemic pans around, we are likely to see a lot of people either being forced to work from home or opting to do so to reduce the risk of the disease spreading further than it needs to. According to ComputerWorld, this stay-at-home shift could choke the internet as workers and students forced into their homes will no doubt continue to treat even old dial-up accounts as being as fast as their work broadband connections and maintain their interest in high bandwidth sites like Youtube.
ComputerWorld suggests that this sudden burden on bytes will force governments to throttle bandwidth on non-essential services. After all, who seriously will need to watch videos of people hacking 9V batteries apart or powering their mp3 player with sweet potatoes when everyone around them are running around like headless chickens? Well…me for one! If we’re all forced to stay indoors and away from other people, then that will mean no proper TV being made, all we’ll get will be endless replays of turkeys and chickens being slaughtered and medical pundits waffling on about how they told us so. Youtube and social bookmarking sites like Digg and Slashdot could become our only useful information sources, with netizens pulling together to dispel the propagating myths and bring us video clips like the How to Sneeze public service broadcast.