A Kind Of Magic
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
Arthur C. Clarke
A long time ago, when people believed the Earth was flat and everyone forgot what the Romans did for us, there was something called phlogiston.
Well, in actual fact there wasn’t, but that’s my point.
People hadn’t made the advances in physics and chemistry that we take for granted today and were struggling to understand how materials could change when subjected to certain external factors. Most commonly, why does wood blacken, char and turn to ash when subjected to fire?
Yes, the correct answer is ‘oxidation’. 10 points to Gryffindor. All you chemistry majors can put your hands down now.
Combustion is a type of oxidation, which is the process of chemically combining a compound with oxygen. In so doing, the compound changes its chemical composition and, as a result, takes on different properties. In this case, it becomes highly brittle, darker in colour and water soluble.
Back then, they thought it was something else. Rather than something being added (oxygen), they thought something was being removed – phlogiston.
In the case of a fire, the release of phlogiston was identified as the flames themselves, which was something else they needed an explanation for. It became this fantastic, magical element that explained all their day to day mysteries. It was hugely convenient, if totally fallacious, and would go on to explain rusting, fermentation and colour pigments in certain flora.
Fast forward several hundred years and here we are again. The subject is cloud telephony. I have to explain to my customers just how exactly their telecoms solution can migrate onto a hosted platform and retain the functions it did before. Honestly, I cannot resist the urge to refer to it as ‘magic’.
And, what exactly is the problem with that? Well, I would argue there isn’t one.
You see, it’s only an issue when you start believing that the magic is real. Our hosted solution is not actually run by Dr Strange, you see.
Like Father Christmas, the Tooth Fairy and Phlogiston, the ‘magic’ here is a convenient lie. You know they’re not real, but they are handy receptacles in which to park your curiosity while you dedicate your time elsewhere.
You know there is no little wizard on a cloud somewhere, but you would rather concern yourself with the benefits to your business and the cost of inception.
Besides, when you dial a number on your handset, do you dedicate any thought to how exactly this mode of communication even works? How the little electrical signals or data packets get where they need to go? Or do you just wait for your call to be picked up and start talking?
I don’t know exactly how an internal combustion engine works, but it doesn’t stop me from driving to work every day. In this instance, a lack of knowledge is not a barrier to inception.
So, don’t let a lack of granular understanding stop you from making a change. People were making decisions based on ‘magic’ long before you and I were around, and the human race lives on.
Don’t stress about that which you don’t need to know. Ignorance is bliss. Let the magic happen and you simply reap the benefit in terms of cheaper calls and line rentals.
GT – Genuine Telecoms