It’s Friday, and I am in a philosophical mood, sitting comfortably under sunny Colorado skies as I peruse the news feeds. A couple days ago, the big buzz was all about the upcoming release of the Microsoft Surface Pro tablet; today the posts and hype about the incoming “monster blizzard” in the northeastern US (aka “Nemo”) are flying as thick as the snow itself.

Nature is again playing a trump card on our wired, tech-dependent world, and I wonder if we are any the wiser for it. For weeks we’ve been besieged with musings, reviews, and other hype about Microsoft Surface Pro. Now, the day before the much-anticipated product hits the stores, our collective attention has shifted to the weather.

Microsoft cancelled its Surface Pro New York launch event because of the storm. Wireless phone and network providers are flooding the press-waves with notices, reassuring their customers like a mother calming a worried child that they’ll do their utmost to ensure your cell phone will have network access through the storm.

We love our technology — and certainly it provides a livelihood for readers of this blog (as well as this writer).  Even so, I believe that a disruptive weather event is an effective, if not necessarily welcome, opportunity to get some perspective on technology’s place in our busy lives.

When Sandy hit New York, my brother and his family lost power for a week. People couldn’t work, businesses were closed, cell phones couldn’t be charged, and emergency and critical health services were unavailable or severely curtailed. As a new extreme weather event approaches, maybe now is a good time for technology professionals — some of the brainiest and most creative-thinking people on the planet — to consider devising new types of products.

What would the world be like if our technology were more minimalist and less intrusive than today’s tech — and at the same time more sophisticated and more adaptable to changing environments? Perhaps with such technology, we’d be better equipped to ride out weather events with fewer disruptions to the rhythm of our lives and livelihoods. In a world so utterly dependent on technology, it behooves tech creators — developers, engineers, designers — to design and build products and services that bend with the prevailing winds, so to speak, rather than resist them.

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