My computer died tonight, just as I sat down to write my blog post. What you're reading now was written with good old fashioned pen and paper. Instead of dwelling on the catastrophic loss of technology, I decided to take a moment to reflect on just how pervasive it is in our lives. In other words, just how much have we succeeded in achieving technological solutions to our everyday challenges? Having just moved to a new town on the other side of the country, I'm highly aware of my use of the internet for local information. Maps, reviews of local restaurants, phone numbers, bus schedules, Craigslist, car share information -- these are just a few of the things I've used my wireless connection to find in the last 24 hours. So, for those few of us remaining without smart phones, when the computer dies, it feels like all lifelines are gone. Complete isolation.
Keep in mind I'm hardly isolated; I still have my cell phone, there are two other members of the household just downstairs, and plenty of neighbors are just a stone's throw away. But, that's part of the point: technology has become so ubiquitous that the moment it fails, everything seems foreign and distant.
Now, technology is a loaded term. Wheels were once technology. But, now it tends to refer to things like communications gadgets, computers (personal or otherwise), smart meters, or iPhone apps. And in a typical day, we cross its path countless times, almost never pausing to notice.
How about the credit card reader at the grocery store? The AC in your office? The app you used to check when the next bus was coming? The twenty-seven searches you asked Google to perform? The "check engine" light in your car?
Life is simply not the same without these advances. It's slower, less efficient, some may argue even less rich. I'm glad to have been forced to take the time to reflect on this -- to see how successful we have already been at solving everyday problems with technological innovation. However, we must keep in mind its fragility, and think ahead about how to solve that challenge.