How Dependent on Technology Are We?




One of my most vivid post-9/11 memories was when lower Manhattan was still smoldering, fear was in the air, and no one knew what was going to come next. We had no idea if there was going to be a series of deadly follow-up attacks, or if the attackers had only gotten lucky. The Anthrax sent through the mails raised fears of a series of ongoing assaults, each of a different form and substance than the previous one.

I flashed back to that this morning around 5:40 am this morning when this site — and just about every other WordPress site — was down. The news last night that the U.S. had seized the Colonial Pipeline ransom back. Was this payback? The beginning of many more DoS attacks? Lots of internet sites were down, including the New York Times, Slate, FT, and so many more sites were flashing a 503 error. I popped open all of the blogs from RWM creators, 503 across the board. Amazon Web Services (AWS) was down, and that powers a big part of the web.

By 6:30, nearly everything was back up and running. But it was an important reminder of just how reliant we have become on technology.

And it’s much more than just the internet. One of my favorite books I read last year was How to Invent Everything: A Survival Guide for the Stranded Time Traveler. It’s a reminder of how dependant we are on others for everything — so much more than just the internet. Almost none of us could make steel or glass or penicillin or any intermediate technologies we have all grown so accustomed to using in everyday life. Who could make a semiconductor, even if they had a million years?

It is good to get a reminder every now and again as to how reliant we have become on even the most basic of technologies. This morning’s massive internet outage was a perfect example.


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