Washington Post

How a Music Video ‘Broke the Internet’

Dec 3, 2014  •  Post A Comment

A popular music video that you almost certainly heard of and, if you were alive in 2012, you probably saw at least part of has literally broken the Internet. At least, it broke the YouTube view counter, The Washington Post reports.

The video is “Gangnam Style,” the Korean pop juggernaut by Psy that pretty much owned the Internet and the pop music world during 2012. It went on to become the most viewed YouTube video of all time — by a lot — and sometime after it passed 2 billion views, a limitation in the video site’s ability to count that high kicked in and the counter flipped out.

The Post article gives a much better explanation, but as it has to do with complicated math, we’ll keep it simple here. It has to do with the number of slots allocated for storing numbers, and because of the way the numbers are coded, once a number gets as high as 2,147,483,648, the counter can’t count that high. And “Gangnam Style” reached that number and kept going.

For those who want more explanation — and more math — please click on the link in the first paragraph to go to the Post story.

YouTube was reportedly upgrading its counter, and the current count on “Gangnam Style” shows that the video has gone well past 2.147 billion.

Suffice to say that if it was a problem for YouTube, it could also become a problem for other tech platforms and Internet sites.

“A lot of data is stored or calculated as a signed 32-bit integer, which means a lot of things ‘max out’ at 2,147,483,647,” the Post reports. “There are a number of video games, for instance, that calculate things this way. More pressingly, the IP system that’s been used since the 1980s only allows for 2^32 IP addresses, or roughly 4.3 billion — a number we’re closing in on, particularly as everything from our cars to coffee machines connect to the ‘Internet of things.’”

Here’s the video:

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