Isn’t that supposed to be the Internet of Things? No, I’ve written about that before, but this post is related. Well, it depends on how far my train of thought gets down the tracks. Let’s get the science out of the way, to assuage the fears of the Monday-morning-math-and-science-phobic crowd – trust me, it won’t be much, I promise. Let’s just work with the fact that entropy can be a measure of the degree of disorder in a system – consider a bunch of Legos scattered across the floor. For a system to decrease its entropy? Energy transfer is necessary – someone has to pick the Legos up or build something with them.
There, that wasn’t so bad…right?
I’ve been thinking about the entropy of things lately. I am about a year away from retirement. In addition, I will be ending my service on the Board of an organization later this year and I will be reducing my involvement in the operation of another organization. In short, I will soon be decreasing the energy I transfer into those “systems.”
There are several possible outcomes.
The most likely outcome is that life will go on just fine without me. That’s not a negative reflection on me, that’s the nature of organizations. No one is indispensable. No one should be. That’s the goal. However, there are some initiatives that I was more passionate about than others, and those initiatives will likely fade away. That’s OK, too. You can transfer knowledge, you can train people in skills, but we all have our own passions.
I’m also reminded of entropy or disorder as I look at the garage I am covering in vinyl siding. The underlying surface, painted wood, is faded, chipped, rotted in places and, absent the energy I am putting into it, it would eventually fail. Truth be told, even with the energy I am putting into it, it will eventually fail, unless someone else works to prevent that. The garage, however well prepared, stands in the heat of New England summers, the cold and snow of winter and the wind and rain of several nor’easters each year. It won’t survive forever.
On Saturday, we were talking about spam followers at the bar. I didn’t spend a lot of time talking about the considerable work WordPress engineers are doing to combat those people, but it is a fact that they are working very hard. Absent that work, WordPress would deteriorate into a lawless mess of malware, pornography, spray tanning options, Ugg boots, payday loans and various other attempts to take your money. At least that’s what I see among the 344 spam comments I removed today. Prior to that, Akismet had removed 91,000 similar comments. That takes energy (electricity) and my time, because one of those 344 comments today was real, and I don’t want to delete any of those.As for the Internet of Things (IoT), well that’s going to require energy on your part, too.
Wait, isn’t the IoT supposed to make life easier?
In theory it will. But, long before we get to collect those benefits, someone will be trying to figure out how to hack into your refrigerator (oh wait, that’s been done). Even if you’re one of the majority (still) of people who say they don’t want their TV, toaster, fridge and washing machine connected, it’s going to take energy to keep them off your network. Technology weaves its way into our lives. There are people who don’t want a backup camera in their car, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration made them mandatory on new cars back in May.
Who would require that you put your refrigerator on the net? Eventually, maybe Congress. Maybe, as they try to save Medicare from financial disaster, they will require us all to have our appliances and plumbing (yes, “Smart” toilets are a thing) keeping tabs on what we eat, how often and how much. Maybe your insurance company will require you to put that tattletale device in your car. All of the energy consumed by those devices will be trying to keep you from sinking into a more disordered state, but it will require you to set passwords to keep your toaster from ordering those Ugg boots.