I just logged into Snarkmarket’s sadly-neglected WordPress dashboard here and found the customary two dozen spam comments waiting in the filter to be flushed. It reminded me of a story scrap I jotted down years ago, this idea of
a digital detective forced to boot up a very old PC in order to access some nearly-defunct online service that more modern machines can’t comprehend… but of course this is perilous, because the old PC does not possess the suite of filtering/blocking software that keeps modern machines so casually safe in the storm of viruses and malware that is the internet. So our detective knows it’s going to be a race against time. She boots up the machine and immediately it begins to die. Malware is bombarding it, finding no resistance, infesting, multiplying, calling its friends. This old PC, this funky beige tower, moment by moment, it’s getting slower, less responsive. Pop-ups are piling up by the hundred. Pop-ups inside pop-ups. Our detective only needs another moment, she just needs to get through to this one thing, but it’s like Zeno’s paradox, because with every moment that passes, each operation takes twice as long, requires 2X moments. The malware is accelerating but (or: therefore) she is moving in slow motion, forced to click… and… wait… as the processor cycles thickly under the load, cher-THUNK, and now the poor addled wreck is overheating, its fan is screaming, and the detective has the feeling of piloting a plane into the ground, etc.
It’s kinda awesome, right? We have built not just a network of cold machines but a real oozing ecosystem, complete with bugs and parasites and creepy-crawly worms. Don’t look under that rock. Or, wait: do!