Welcome to Auntie Ems Y2K kickoff celebration.
Welcome to Auntie Em’s Y2K kickoff celebration.
Ive got a little secret for those of you not on
the inside of the glamorous, jet-setting world of computer
media. I dont want everyone to hear, so lean in
close while I whisper. Ready? Here it is: Every (shhhh...
Im whispering now) computer magazineand
most non-computer magazines as wellprinted in 1999
will have an article about the Y2K bug. Just as every
other news story in 1998 was about Bubba and the intern,
in 1999, Y2K will be the defining issue. So, dont
expect to hear about much besides Y2K for the next 12
months. To start the year on the right foot, and before
you get completely sick of hearing about it, welcome to
Auntie Ems Y2K kickoff celebration.
Over the last couple of months, Im sure youve
heard so much misinformation and irresponsible hype about
the millenium bug that I feel an ethical obligation to
spread some misinformation and irresponsible hype of my
own. For example, someone handed me a copy of the novel
Y2K: Its Already Too Late (by Jason Kelly,
Jk Pr, ISBN 0-96643-870-1), in which pacemakers cease
to function and car brakes lock up at 70 mph because of
the Y2K bug. Absurd! As every technically informed person
knows, pacemakers will just function erratically, and
brakes wont lock up until cars reach 75 mph.
At one of my client companiesand I swear Im
not making this upone of the otherwise rational
engineers has been trying to convince me that our government
plans to use Y2K as an excuse to institute the new
world order. In the draconian future he describes,
well all be required to have an identification chip
implanted in the palm of our hand, and the millenium will
usher in a new era of military rule.
My favorite newspaper, the Weekly
World News, recently proclaimed on its front cover,
All Banks Will Fail and Food Supplies
Will Be Depleted.
I realize that the Y2K bug is serious and not something
to be made fun of or taken lightly.1
There are much better things to make fun of and take lightly,
such as Hanson and the Internal Revenue Service. Nevertheless,
hearing this kind of horrendously stupid nonsense makes
me want to laugh and vomit at the same time (well, maybe
not at exactly the same time, but you get the point).
Im very much of the opinion that the worst damage
will be inflicted not by the Y2K bug itself but by us
folks here in the glamorous, jet-setting world of the
media. You see, its the job of the media to attract
readers and viewers (to harvest eyeballs,
as we say in the biz). One easy way to do
this is by asking dramatic questions like, Will
your family survive? or How will you listen
to Hanson with no electricity?
By preying on peoples worst fears and reporting
things that make no technical sense, the media may actually
make things much worse than they otherwise would be. Already
Ive been hearing about people selling their family
homes to buy cabins in northern Idaho in the hope of escaping
this terrible event. All we need now is a couple of sensationalist
reports on Hard Copy to have people running for the hills
like monkeys on fire.2
I may be wrong, but Im of the opinion that we,
as technical professionals, have an important responsibility
here. I believe we should: a) do everything we can to
ensure that our companies, vendors, and customers are
Y2K compliant, b) advise our friends and families to take
a level-headed approach to their Y2K preparations, and
c) act like nothings wrong.
As for me, Im nearly finished stockpiling Snackwells
and ammunition. I plan to spend the eve of the millenium
watching "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory"
on DVD while the rest of society crumbles around us like
stale Sara Lee pound cake. Unless, of course, theres
no electricity, in which case youll find me studying
a non-CBT version of the Windows 2000 for the Data Center
exam prep guide by the glow of my non-virtual fireplace.
1 Unless, of course, you feel
2 No monkeys were actually
harmed during the writing of this column.
Em C. Pea, MCP, is a technology consultant, writer and now budding nanotechnologist who you can expect to turn up somewhere writing about technology once again.