Thursday, February 16, 2012

Ignoring the Survival Strategy of Diversity Jeapordizes the Internet and Entire Computer Industry

Oozing with Symbolism They have no Name

Response to brief article of the impact of the hard drive shortage due to flooding in Taiwan.

  I think this issue has ramifications which are MUCH broader than are covered in the brief article I read. This is understandable.  But follow-ups are necessary.  Computers have short half-lives (I am a physician and so I risk using medical terminology when it is the most descriptive term available for the circumstances): they have parts that wear out frequently because of high speed movements.  This certainly applies to hard drives.  In addition to frequent mainentence, they wear out in multiple ways, having to be replaced frequently, sooner in some industries than others.  Three years is good estimate for the purpose of discussion here.  Consider internet server farms, the engines of the internet.  If the operators can't freely repair and freely replace as they are accustomed to, the quality of the internet will deteriorate rapidly; and, the needed expansion will grind to a halt during the time it takes to rebuild the critical factories in Taiwan.  Things will not get any better for months after the the production resumes.  This is yet another example of the survival value of any species ,which is most important in its diversity.  We have failed miserably to learn this lesson, which has been well known in the scientific community (biological sciences) for 150 years or so.
It also emphasizes the wisdom of the new scientific field of "weather modeling", scarcely 20 years old, but already established as the the most import field in the most important area of study in Science, Ecology, which clearly determines  what our survival of a species will require.  Not nuclear war, or systems of government , but climate changes.  The 20th century turns out to be a freak abnormality: the calmist century of weather in 100,000 yrs or more.  It coincidentally happened to be the century of the greatest % and total number of human expansion in the history of our species.  However, ignorant of all the above "bigger picture" issues, we were deluded into thinking this was normal.  We are now 6.5 billion people; and, even with ideal conditions, we can't feed all these people. With the cycle of vastly more turbulent and violent weather as happened in Taiwan, along with what is slowly unfolding in Texas (a 100-200 year drought in a state of 25 million) we, as a culture, are acting like deer in the headlights.  People don't want to know about any of this. Denial and the electronic narcotic of TV are much "easier" ways to cope.  That is, until your power is shut off, there is no water to flush toilets or bath, and the internet becomes an unreliable patchwork.
Everone in Texas needs a generator, sophisticated surge protectors for all their electronics, a bevy of batteries and flash lights, water storage systems, walkie talkies for every house member, and a short wave send and recieve short band radio.  Remember in the pre-internet days, those CB guys with 50' antennas were the back-up for all emergency services when telephones and power lines were destroyed.  They had a person-to-person relay system that could get info across the continent in minutes.  I'm sure die-hard enthusiasts have kept this system alive; and, they are suddenly becoming important people again.  Lesson: never totally abandon older technologies that work, just because something fancier and faster comes along.  Again, diversify, diversify diversify.
Morris Creedon-McVean   blog: