Friday, April 15, 2016

What Hath God Wrought?

On Thursday, we got to school and discovered there was no internet service in our buildings.  This was a challenge in terms of work and instruction, since many of us use iPads and Apple TV to teach.  Classroom teachers quickly adapted and school was basically school without Google, which is perfectly fine.  Our middle school students don’t use their phones during the school day; they had no idea that anything was amiss.

But the adults were a different story.  We wanted to know what was the matter.  Some of us speculated and then waited in the information darkness.  But most of us quickly pulled out our phones to dial up internet outage maps that showed the whole East Coast as down.  Because T is computer savvy, I knew those maps were nonsense generated by outage websites that are not valid.  Obviously, there was an outage in our immediate area, but it was not all of New Jersey, yet alone the mid-Atlantic corridor, as the faculty rumor mill insisted.  That evening I got home and looked for news stories that would note the outage, figuring that an east coast outage of the magnitude shown on the maps would be newsworthy. There were none.


The world of instant communication and information has seemed to leave its mark upon us all, even if we think otherwise.  We seek information even when there is none to be had.  We seem prepared to accept explanations that are clearly suspect or even bogus because we must know or because they provide confirmation of our experience.  To be sure, the internet world of instant knowledge can be quite useful.  But it can also be wrong.  It’s important to know the difference.

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