Saturday, January 20, 2007

Points of Failure

My computer crashed a few days ago, bringing much of my personal writing activity to a halt. I was cut off from e-mail as well. It was a rude reminder of how dependent I have become on high entropy (wasteful) technologies.

Fortunately, I have a backup computer, but with much less RAM and hard drive space it struggles under the weight of its updated, bloated, Windows operating system. At six years old, this prematurely ancient computer requires constant nursing to maintain the most basic functionality, especially when it is connected to the Internet.

I tend to wax more philosophical than usual when bad stuff happens. One thought that struck me was how similar my computer's situation was to that of the world in general. Like my computer, the world has become reliant on intricate and complex energy flows for its survival. My poor motherboard was probably the victim of one or two points of failure, accidental occurrences which brought down the entire, highly tweaked machine. These points of failure are analogous to the loss of key species in the Earth's ecosystem, which other species are dependent on for food and services.

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