what about all the things we can’t see? [#blogjune post #29]

Post #29 – where infrastructure is the topic of discussion

Do you ever wonder about the backend? What about all those hidden systems and infrastructure that manages to keep our society functioning. The sewers and storm water, gas and electricity, phone & internet, road and water, rubbish removal etc. So much happens behind the scenes that we don’t need to think about, but it keeps things ticking over and functioning smoothly. The photo below show some ancient drainage/storm water system that’s been built under a road. It’s probably two thousand years old and still works! You’d never know it was there though, only that it’s been exposed can you see the foresight and engineering that has gone into it. We rely on these services a lot and are quick to complain when they stop working. The same goes for education – particularly when we are online.

Many of the technologies we use today are supported by a backend that keeps the functionality up and running. It takes skill/s to keep systems running, and it requires resources for hardware and software. Patches and upgrades are a part of this and we expect them to happen regularly to maintain the system. Planning and processes should ensure systems are up for most of the time, and experts are given the responsibility to decide on how best to do this. Many of the online tools and systems we use are complex, and they are often integrated with other systems. Do we make an attempt to understand this, and have an appreciation for the work required to to maintain our access to the systems that drive the backend of our libraries, humans resources, student databases, integrated learning platforms? Frankly I’m amazed that these things work at all – at their base level they use 1’s and 0’s (binary code) to function, and I wonder how many of these transactions are happening at any one time – scary to think about…

So the truth is that sometimes there are downtimes and things break when we don’t expect them. Are we ready for when this might happen? Are we prepared to accept that problems will occur?

Do you appreciate the work that goes into maintaining the backend? Do you have a fallback if the systems breaks?

drainage system

Ancient drainage system exposed in Aspendos

The Word of the Day is: ’smirch’ – not something I appreciate.


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