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Sunday, September 4, 2011

The "Titanic Effect"

  I can't help but feel we're on our way to a technological calamity. One which will alter our faith in ourselves. I call it the "Titanic Effect" since the legends which have grown from that tragedy are arguably some of the best known in the world today. The falsity that some unknown individual involved with the design, construction or ownership of the great ship boasted "God Himself couldn't sink her" along with our blind faith in our marine technology of the era.
  We are far too eager to believe the claims of the tech-boosters and prophets of arrived perfection. Today it's our "information superhighway" that is headed full speed blindly in the black night with us joyfully aboard. "Ah, you're just a contrary Luddite" you say, well, yeah, I am, sort of. But read on....
  Never forget, the people who make the stuff want to sell it & the people who buy the stuff don't always understand all they are buying. Those who design and profit from high tech (just like every other business endeavor) are always ready to gloss over any negative potentials; even to the point of convincing themselves. Those who have the resources to purchase these new wonders usually rely on freshly minted experts to explain and implement these new goodies. These experts also have a vested interest in promulgating any new tech, since it means more work and profit for them (there is nothing evil in that, it is simply a fact one needs to keep in mind). It is inevitable that any early successes will be followed by a stampede to "tech-up" by nearly everyone else.
  Our modern rush to commit everything to the ether cries out for a reiteration of the cautionary tale embodied in the Titanic legend. We are, all to willing to accept the spiel of the e-drummer. Under cover of claims of simplification our lives are getting more and more complex at an ever increasing rate. If you doubt me just look at the tangle of wires and cables under your computer desk or the hall table where you plug everything in to charge overnight. We sign on for risks we don't even know exist. Identity theft, "design flaws" and hacking threaten all of us  more directly every day. Amidst promises of impenetrable security we are racing to trust our whole lives to the ether. Banking and credit card information, medical records, intimate details of  our lives all go on-line proven safe by that little padlock icon:
 In spite of regular news stories telling of "software glitches", "human error", stolen hardware and hacking. No security is impenetrable, keep that in mind as you look after your savings and investments on-line, or as you load money onto a transit fare card, or as you swipe your credit card through all manner of reader. Anyone one who's ever had their identity stolen or their computer hacked knows you can't get much more complicated than straightening out those.
  I'm not advocating abandoning computers and the web or a halt to all advance (considering I writing this for a blog, that would be a bit disingenuous of me wouldn't it.) , just reasonable caution and honest assessment. Do not ignore or down play risks, demand a comprehensive examination of any electronic system dealing in sensitive information and demand security redundancy . Don't race to get every single new gadget that comes on the market. How  many devices with cameras and e-mail does one person really need?         Don't trust your entire life to the ether.
  Anything you put on-line is there forever and for all to see. Does you employer or the government or a jilted lover have a right to know so much about your life? Yes they do, if you post it all on-line or trust it all to not very secure secure systems.
  Will it take another titanic disaster for us to come to our senses? Will hundreds or even thousands of people need to suffer some sort of financial loss before we once again remember reasonable caution?
  Gloom and doom you say. Yes, because I feel it's important for us to always cast a critical eye toward any claimed advance. Remember there are pluses and minuses to every choice we make. This very blog is, at least to me, a wonderful advance. I can share my thoughts and  read those of so many more people than I could have before the web/net. The  flip side is that even if my thoughts are insane I can still share them with the world. Those pathetic forwards that have been bouncing around e-mail for years are a perfect example of the negative. My sister, for example, after being inundated by so many of these forwards from other family members has become convinced that the U.S. is being over-run by millions of immigrants whose only goal is to collect welfare. This obviously is not true and she is an extremely intelligent and rational person, yet after a constant bombardment of these silly forwards over time she has begun to believe, if not the facts of these messages, their general sense. I have an aunt who believes even the most outlandish of these e-mails forwards. 
  Embrace and enjoy all the benefits of our ever advancing technology, just remember roses always come with a few thorns.

                                                                                                                                                                               A.S. Merrimac

P.S. Let's declare war against I.B.S. (Internet Bull S---t) delete those stupid and hateful forwards and click away from those foul lying hate mongering sites.        

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