The fragility of the Internet

fragility of the internet

I still have shelves and shelves of books: novels, poetry, history, biographies. Also reference books.



But do I really need reference books? Isn’t that what the Internet is all about? Twenty years ago, you had to know how to use a dictionary, and an encyclopedia, and an almanac, and a phone book, to look anything up. Now Google and Siri have everything wrapped up.



So long as you have 3G, or 4G, or WiFi, and provided your battery is all charged up.



The nice thing about those big lumpy reference books is that they’re not going anywhere. They will sit on my shelves, ugly and faithful, until they’re called upon for use. They do not require electricity, or an Internet connection.



What if an electromagnetic pulse (AKA EMP) happens? Or a huge angry sunspot? Or an attack by hackers from some unfriendly country?



And the Internet goes away. Electricity too, for a while.



What will we do then?



My books will still be useful. It’ll be just like the 1980s. I think I’ll be able to survive, for a while.



But for the young people who were born after the Net took over the world, it will be torture.



Poor things.



You can come borrow my dictionary.


About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

4 Responses to The fragility of the Internet

  1. I keep my gardening reference books for that reason even though it is easier to Google any plant or question.

  2. starproms says:

    I love the internet but I also love my books. They are like old friends and it is very difficult to part with them. I have been interested in language for many years and kept my Spanish, French and German reference books on the shelf ‘just in case’. I just like them there in case I fancy a bit of translation or I want to know what the equivalent of some word is in t’other language.

    • I’m just afraid that I won’t have access to all this wonderful information if/when the power goes out. And, like you, I would NEVER get rid of my language books.

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