Where we are


I’m walking to the parcel locker (paczkomat) to pick up a thing I ordered online. Phone in the left pocket, wireless headphones in my ears. Listening to a podcast. All devices designed on one continent, manufactured on the other one, using materials mined from the third one. I effortlessly open the parcel locker door using my phone. It’s very easy. The rectangle in my hand listens to signals from at least four American satellites put in orbit for military purposes and it sends a request through the cell network to the app’s backend. Which lives in some data center, possibly in another country. Upon layers of operating systems, virtualization, compiled bytecode, etc. the decision is made and it travels in the opposite direction: from the data center through layers of physical infrastructure and error-correcting protocols to the computer in the parcel locker itself, which opens the door. Inside is my package. Which is approximately 175 times larger than the thing that I ordered. You see, I bought a new “smart” light switch. I want to check it out because it has different software configuration options compared to the old model. However, I’m quite picky and it’s likely that those options won’t be enough for me. No biggie, I’ll simply connect it to the system my phone’s manufacturer provides: you press a button on the switch on the wall, it communicates over zigbee with the bridge, through the cable to the router, over wifi to the tablet, where some bits are flipped and the information travels back over wifi to the router, through the cable to the bridge, and over zigbee to the light bulb. One press of a button and you change the light. Which runs on electricity produced from burning coal. About fifth of which is imported. And about tenth of that is mined in Australia and shipped to the opposite side of the globe.

And everything I mentioned here happens because it’s the easier option.

The only logical step is to post about this on Instagram. After all I was listening to an interview with its head during my walk. I try to be cynical towards corporations but everything he said made sense and he seemed like a nice guy, so… That’s where we are. Cat included for likes.

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