Crop Variation

On a dark day a couple of years ago, we fought a campus worm that was blasting away on the network. As we regained control and patched PCs left and right, we were able to let our Mac users know that they weren’t affected.

Windmill in wheat fieldAt some point, a science teacher brought in his Dell Latitude for “the fix,” and commented that he finally figured out why we were cross-platform. “It’s crop variation, right? Societies that base too much of their food supply on a single crop leave themselves wide open for disaster when that crop fails or is ravaged by a disease.”

We agreed, of course, taking credit for something clever we hadn’t thought of. It’s true, however, that the different operating systems we run do appear resistant to different types of problems. In general, I’ve always wanted to do a conference presentation called “The Future Is Messy,” in which I’d argue that there is a zero chance of a single platform future. Cross-platform environments are more of a challenge to support, but they are worth the effort. Personal computers are supposed to be personal, and respecting and supporting the choices of faculty and students in this regard can pay handsome dividends. In the near future, won’t all upper school students be chosing and supporting their own systems, for example?

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