[W]e need to keep things in perspective: The apparent onslaught of disasters doesn’t portend the end of the world. Beware disaster hysteria in the news media. The serial disasters of the 21st century will be, to some extent, a matter of perception. It’ll feel like we’re bouncing from disaster to disaster in part because of the shrinking of the world and the ubiquity of communications technology.
☛ SLATE: “The Century of Disasters” by Joel Achenbach, May 13, 2011
In his article, Achenbach also quotes an advice about cloud computing:
Charles Perrow, author of Normal Accidents, told me that computer infrastructure is a disaster in the making. “Watch out for failures in cloud computing,” he said by email. “They will have consequences for medical monitoring systems and much else.”
Interesting read in the wake the recent “Amazon’s Cloud Crash Disaster” (as some media coined the event). See the reports in The New York Times: “Amazon Cloud Failure Takes Down Web Sites” by Claire Clain Miller, April 21, 2001 and “Amazon’s Trouble Raises Cloud Computing Doubts” by Steve Lohr, April 22, 2011.
I’m directly using Amazon Simple Storage Service (otherwise known as Amazon S3) only for automated backup of this WordPress blog. But how many services that I’m using are relying directly or indirectly on Amazon file hosting services?
Previously on Aphelis: “The Half-Life of Disater” by Brian Massumi (April 2011)
[UPDATE ― September 21, 2011] A similar idea to the one shared by Joel Achenbach was proposed by Paul Virilio as early as 1999 in his book Politics of the Very Worst:
When you invent the ship, you also invent the shipwreck; when you invent the plane you also invent the plane crash; and when you invent electricity, you invent electrocution… Every technology carries its own negativity, which is invented at the same time as technical progress. (New York: Semiotext(e), 1999, p. 89; originally published in French as Cybermonde, la politique du pire, éd. Textuel, Paris, 1996)
Virilio came back to this idea a few years later when he wrote The Original Accident:
To invent the sailing ship or the steamer is to invent the shipwreck. To invent the train is to invent the rail accident of derailment. To invent the family automobile is to produce the pile-up on the highway. (Cambridge: Polity, 2007, p. 10; originally published in French as L’accident originel, éd. Galilé, Paris, 2005).