infrastructure, in all its glory

Infrastructure is under appreciated, a point that John Oliver makes exceptionally well. The physical infrastructure of electricity and water, sewage and now the internet, these keep modern civilization functioning.

Infrastructure requires constant maintenance, boring but necessary work to make sure that roads stay passable, that dams are strong enough to hold back the weight of the lakes behind them.

I learned an interesting fact some time ago, that a significant percentage (perhaps up to a quarter or so) of the traffic on the internet is just the internet keeping track of itself, so that emails get to their intended destinations and we can continue to stream old episodes of the Sopranos.

There is administrative infrastructure as well, and this is the infrastructure I’m more familiar with. Policies and regulations, policies and forms, I spend what seems some days to be a disproportionate amount of time working through these, making sure they’re doing what we need them to be doing.

I find infrastructure fascinating, I have to admit. I like working through the details of academic administrative infrastructure.

And then we come to the next question: what is the ideal shape of the infrastructure we are trying to build? For society as a whole, the shape of infrastructure will be of critical importance going forward, as will be the process of going from our current infrastructure to the infrastructure we will need in the future.

The same holds true of the administrative infrastructure we use to govern ourselves.

So. We have a meeting tomorrow, where we’ll continue to work through the details of how we should better govern ourselves, because like in all other things, there is nothing we do so well, that we cannot improve.

~ by Jim Anderson on 24 March 2019.

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