Hd Beeper Blues
Technology is your friend. Technology is your friend. Technology is your friend
It would have been wise to repeat that mantra last week when nearly all of the nation’s pagers went kaput as a result of a massive computer failure by a satellite orbiting overhead. Doctors were left wondering which patient was trying to reach them. Money managers on their lunch hour were left clueless about what the Dow was doing. Teen-agers puzzled over who was breaking up with whom.
In short, it was a mess. And while there was the usual moaning about how we’ve become a techno-dependent society (the kind of hand-wringing that occurs when the lights go out or AOL is on the fritz), several representatives of the satellite industry actually put a positive spin on the glitch.
“This highlights how important satellites are to the core fabric of the entire telecommunications infrastructure in the United States,” said Harry Thibedeau of the Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Industry, a trade group.
It’s a point worth noting. Prior to last Tuesday’s outage, who knew that almost 90 percent of the nation’s pagers were reliant on a single 3,700-pound satellite? Who even knew that our messages were being relayed by satellite in the first place?
Instead of offering a platform for the anti-tech crowd, last week’s mishap provides an important reminder of how stunning the evolution of technology has been as well as how beneficial these gadgets can be. What happened on Galaxy IV last week offered an opportunity to stop and examine where we have come from, instead of taking for granted what we now have.
The opportunity will not last long. Just 24 hours after the cut-off, pagers across the country were slowly starting to beep again.