Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Rise and Fall of Technology Pt. II

Last week I talked about how the "Big Black Out of 2012" affected my family.  This week, I want to talk about how it affected my work.
As you may remember, the black-out occurred at 6:30 p.m.  Therefore, no one knew how it would or did affect the office. The kids didn't have school the next day, so I got up and went into the office early, planning to catch up on some billing. When I got there, however, the server wasn't working. We couldn't access the client files, the billing program, the internet...anything.  After about two and a half hours of fiddling around, my partner was able to get us internet access, but still no office files or any programs on the server.  Once his computer savvy was exhausted, my husband stepped in...after yet another hour hour and a half (well into the lunch hour) we still didn't have access to the server.
As I sat there, after having reviewed everything I could, and wishing there was SOMETHING that I could do, I thought about how dependent we all are on computers and the internet.  If I had started practicing law even 20 years ago, rather than 10, things would have been so much different... and when I think about how the Courts, and our office, is trying to go concerns me.  When all of the information you need to do your job is inaccessible, you can't do your job. If every pleading is paperless, and there are no hard copies of anything, what happens when you can't access your information?
Just think about that...the entire federal court system is paperless - documents are prepared on computers, electronically signed and filed on-line. No paper copy of the documents exist in the court.  What happens when the servers fail, or are hacked, or the back-up doesn't "take."  No records to be accessed, hours and hours of work lost... it scares me a little.
I don't know how many of you remember the whole Y2K mess, but I do.  My husband is a computer guy, he knows stuff. and while we weren't selling everything we owned and moving out into the woods to avoid the chaos of Y2K, we did store some extra food and water, waiting for the disaster that didn't happen.  It didn't take long, after the new year began, to sweep all that paranoia and fear under the rug, and we are more reliant on computers and electronics than ever.  Now granted, I'm a little skittish about technology and advances in general, and frankly, when the whole economy went to hell three years ago, I was hoping for a revolution - less reliance on travel, money and "making the big bucks" - more focus on living locally, self-sufficiency and economic conservatism.  I don't mean to wax political here, but when I think of being financially conservative, I think of keeping money close to home. The irony is, of course, that real conservatives want to keep their own money but to give it to someone else to theoretically turn it into more money. Me, I'm a "bird in the hand" conservative. There isn't any place in the current political climate for that.
Back to the point. I like the idea of being prepared for a non-electronic age, and get concerned when everything is going digital.  If the black out had been for days, versus an hour, or if our computers had not been able to be reset for days, we would have been stuck.  Call me crazy, call me a fantasist, but I bet you that one day, electronics failure is going to be our downfall.  Our society wouldn't even know how to function.  But, like that blissful hour-and-a-half at home with the kids, I think I would revel in the simplicity of life without e-filing, communal servers, and yes, even blogs!


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