We Are All Information Systems: Vol. I

Recently my mind has stumbled into some of the interesting similarities between humans and computers which have captured my attention. The first example of this (and possibly the most pragmatic) is the utility of a reboot.

Any tech support person worth a damn knows that the first step to troubleshooting a buggy system is to do a reboot (it never ceases to amaze me how often this actually works). That’s the nature of computers. They are very complex systems and after operating for a long period of time without a break, things just start getting unreliable, unpredictable...weird.

Seemingly this is precisely the same way that humans operate. We have limits to our operating capacity before we start being incapable of properly processing information. Have you ever struggled with a complex or stressful problem all day with not progress only to wake up the next morning with the solution staring you right in the face? Or maybe the more common case...a funk. Emotionally erratic. Physically off balance. Sluggish in thought. All seemingly irreversible until we just take time to shut down, power up, and come back for another day.

To take this analogy further, we can consider a soft reboot. With a silicon-based information system sometimes you don’t need to reboot the whole system, you can just restart the app, service, or daemon. With a human information system you can do the same. This comes in many forms. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Take a long walk. Distract yourself with some mindless media. Unplug from media completely. Meditate.

So the next time you are ready to throw yourself against a wall or take yourself into a support specialist, maybe try some reboot first.


Disclaimer: As with computers, if reboots aren’t working, maybe a support specialist is your best choice.