Media, Technology, and Education

A Short Story About Expertise and COVID 19

There’s a meme going around FB and Twitter about supposed media overreactions in the last 20 years. I won’t post it so as not to amplify its message. Most of the supposed overreactions listed are epidemic/pandemic events that turned out to not be that bad. I don’t know much about those events. I do, however, know a lot about the first event on the list–Y2K. Remember in the lead up to the year 2000 there was a lot of talk about systems relying on computers failing as the year turned from 99 to 00 because software systems used two digits to represent the year. And then on Jan 1, 2000, nothing bad happened. This was NOT a case of media hype. This was a case of software professionals taking likely disaster seriously and working for years to mitigate or even eliminate the disaster. I worked on many software projects from the 1980s forward to change the data for years from two digits to four digits to make sure computer systems as we knew them did not shut down. It was not glamorous work but it was critical. And because our efforts worked, the lesson should NOT be that the potential danger was overhyped. The lesson should be that we can deal with potential dangers if we listen to experts. So wash your hands and practice social distancing.

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I am currently Professor of Digital Media at Plymouth State University in Plymouth, NH. I am also the current Coordinator of General Education at the University. I am interested in astrophotography, game studies, digital literacies, open pedagogies, and generally how technology impacts our culture.

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