Planet of the Apps and the BlackBerry Blackout

For a full three days the world went dark for many on the planet. That is, for much of the BlackBerry users whose thumbs got a rest while Research In Motion (RIM), the BlackBerry manufacturer, fixed a glitch in their UK network. In an effort of honest reciprocity, RIM is trying to apologize through premium app giveaways all those users effected by the breakdown. It’s a nice thought, but the repercussions of their digital dilemma makes me worried.

Not only have we become so dependent on our devices that we screech to a halt, then throw it in reverse when we’ve discovered we left our handheld on the kitchen counter; we also become paralyzed as citizens of the planet when the system crashes. Worldwide.

And that’s what is happening more and more as we teeter-totter toward more interdependencies. The BlackBerry Blackout has taught us that we’re in this together.

As a wannabe screenwriter, I often daydream about catastrophic films in which the data itself takes over the world. Like the Matrix, we humans wander about in dim lighting and blackclothing, wondering where Nature went, whose got the power (because that’s what information is today) and what happens to all that big data we’ve put ‘out there’. What if it grew so large it took over the planet?

We’d be the planet of the apps*, searching aimlessly for device-free land in a world gone dark.

*This term was borrowed from a brilliant research report compiled by Chief Learning Officer about learning technology. So I can’t claim it. But I used it shamelessly. So there.

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