Technology is not responding: but we can

So much depends on my computer. All my English essays, study guides, music, pictures, and college applications live within that four-year-old laptop. For a few hours, all this was gone.

A few weeks ago, I was working on my college applications with my usually dependable MacBook computer when it froze.

I decided to restart the computer, but upon rebooting it, my account on the computer had completely vanished. Since I hadn’t backed it up in a while, I faced losing the college essays that I worked for hours on. Needless to say, I was a bit terrified.

I took my computer to the “Genius Bar” at a nearby Apple store, where a bespectacled young man plugged a bright orange gadget into the computer and restored it. He said it might have been a problem with the battery or hard drive and lectured me on the importance of backing up. I nodded diligently. Fortunately, I lost almost no documents throughout the whole ordeal, but I very easily could have lost everything.

Backing up to a hard drive, an electronic insurance of sorts, never seemed all that important until I confronted the potential loss of all my work. I’m not the only one who has faced a computer crash, and anyone who has could tell you it’s a nightmarish prospect. In a world where we store everything from contacts to music to essays on electronic interfaces, we are deeply tied to our gadgets.

Harvard-Westlake is pushing toward an ever more paperless academic environment with the recent implementation of “The Hub,” which organizes class materials and quizzes into a central online location. I believe that these technological innovations are improving the way teachers teach and students learn in many ways.

It has the significant environmental benefit of saving paper that would otherwise be printed out.

Even though it exists online, The Hub is still susceptible to crashes and glitches. Within the two months it has been up and running, The Hub has already malfunctioned on a school-wide level. It has left students without access to their homework and class materials and even incorrectly scored online quizzes.

As the school makes a transition into this paperless system, I caution both students and teachers to back up their work offline and in solid-state memory such as flash drives or hard drives because you never know when a computer or a website might crash. There is only one way to prevent technological devastation, and it’s pretty easy:

Save often.

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