Meditations in an Emergency: Internet Problems

As any UCC student will tell you (see Isaac Fish below), we experienced some technical difficulties this weekend resulting in Internet connection problems on Monday. Being UCC’s premiere online publication, TBAW takes such communication breakdowns very seriously. We sent our reporters to ask students and faculty their thoughts on the day’s events. The reflections offered lend a perspective on the outage, the outrage that followed, and our dependence on technology.

Matthew Hong: It… it was… it was awful. I barely survived. I don’t know… It was terrible.

Isaac Fish: The problem was that there are only two cooling systems for the servers and if one of them malfunctions that’s okay as long as the proper precautions are made and it is fixed but it was not all weekend and the next day the other cooling system blew out because it had double the stress load on it leading to a climate of over 50 degrees around the servers. This is a really bad thing for the servers and can cause major malfunctions and data loss within the server.

Francois Kenny: Well, first off, without Blackboard, there were limits on what kids could have done in class. It was horrible timing because of exams on the horizon and many major assignments due before the end of the term. I think it was just a bump in the road for the first year of the 1 to 1 policy.

Ryan Parsons: It wasn’t an issue for me. I just plugged my phone into my computer and bam, I had Internet.

Mr. Bauld: During the Toronto blackout in the summer of 2003, I spent a good part of the night eating dosas at an Indian restaurant. They cooked outside on gas stoves and chilled drinks in iceboxes. There were candles on the table, but beyond that it was dark. It was a great night because everyone remembered that we could live in different ways and still remain ourselves. I wouldn’t want to be off the grid for too long, but for that short period of time, it was refreshing. Yesterday the Internet was down and part of the school became still.  At first it felt like one of its limbs was lopped off, but then it felt calm. And then spacious. As we train ourselves to move forward with technological advances, it seems as important to (re)train ourselves to become comfortable and adaptable to a world without them. Perhaps we should have one day in each school week where we unplug from the various networks that compete for our attention. A day of rest.

Timur Malik: It was crummy. Not much to do. I just slept.

Ms. Ferguson: I went outside and read a book!

Brayden Singh: It sucked.

Max Hyland: It was brutal. I couldn’t hand in my English because I couldn’t get on Blackboard. I couldn’t check my email to see if I was meeting a teacher after school. And it was funny to see Stonehouse cry because he couldn’t game.

Matthew Stonehouse: It was fine.

Matthew Henderson: I just used 3G.

Mr. Williams: I heard from someone during today’s fire drill that Google bans e-mail every Friday…kind of a variation on the “casual Fridays” model.

Chris Lozano: What’s the point of having a laptop without Internet? How can you access essential sites like Google and LozanoCorp?

Phil Smith: It was nice to shift back to the work mentality of last year, where we weren’t distracted all the time.

Ms. Burness: It was blissful.

Amrithal Bachra: Gaming was made very difficult but thankfully I had already downloaded some games to my computer so I was set for the day.

Ms. Peacock: My desk is now very clean and I lost May 30th in the news.

Mr. Tong: How about No Email Friday? This is done at places like Google where employees are not to send or receive email and can use the day to “think”.

Ms. Kouremenos: What a fantastic day! You can’t imagine what a blessing in disguise it was. I got so much done.

Jack Keating: It broke my <3… I didn’t know what to do in class.

Ms. Roughneen: On a day without the Internet the Librarian was asked several times for help navigating information without computers:

“I can’t use the online catalogue—help! Where do I find what I need?”

“You know how this works; can you help me?”

“I need background piece on Monteverdi but Google is not available—where can I find a good background article?”

Enter Groves New Encyclopedia of Music and Musicians—a book on the shelf—with wonderful coverage on the Italian composer (written by experts and with lots of additional bibliographies and connections to be made: primary sources, excerpts from his compositions, analysis of his works and his historical position) accessed in thirty seconds because the right question was asked in the library where making connections between all forms of information is what we do.

Ms. Timusk: It was the most wonderful day. I wasn’t distracted by a little envelope that I just can’t ignore. I got things done! I talked to actual people when I needed something! I walked around the school! It was a stress-free day. Maybe we need to go back in time to a simpler time.

Sam Frum: There was really nothing to do, so we just closed our computers in class and weren’t distracted.

(Image Courtesy of Dr. Morris)