Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Say Also a Word of Thanks to the Technologists

By Eugene Volokh - March 24, 2020 at 08:02AM

People have been speaking recently about the importance of workers in the seemingly unglamorous jobs, e.g.:

[W]ho now is more important than the trucker who drives 12-hours straight to deliver toilet paper to Costco? Or the mid-level manager of Target who calibrates supply and demand and is on the phone all day juggling deliveries before his store opens? Or the checker at the local supermarket who knows that the hundreds of customers inches away from her pose risks of infection, and yet she ensures that people walk out with food in their carts? The farmworker who is on the tractor all night to ensure that millions of carrots and lettuce don't rot? The muddy frackers in West Texas who make it possible that natural gas reaches the home of the quarantined broker in Houston? The ER nurse on her fifth coronavirus of the day who matter-of-factly saves lives?

It is right to praise their work, and to understand how, as "essential" workers, they are exposed to the world while the rest of us self-quarantine (whether working from home or becoming unemployed).

But say thanks also to the people who created Zoom and Skype and Google Hangouts, which allow at least a good deal of work and studying to keep happening despite the lockdown. Thank those who made it possible to keep your business's data online and access it from home. Thank those who created the apps and web sites that we use for quicker and more reliable home delivery.

Thank those who built the Internet itself; those who built the high-speed communications infrastructure that makes it possible; those who maintain it. Thank the people who funded all the businesses that underlie all this, and run and grown those businesses. Thank them today, whatever disputes you might have had with Silicon Valley yesterday or will have again tomorrow. Remember that, alongside those who create and ship and distribute our tangible goods, those who helped us transmit our intangibles have been just as indispensable. Remember that it is their care, too, that eases the buffet and cushions the shock.

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