Technological Downfalls

Frani O’Toole       With the October 1st launch of the new healthcare law beset by technical difficulties, now seems an appropriate time to look at Latin’s own involvement with technology—our dependence on it, expectations of it, frustration with it.  Over the past few years, as individuals and as a community, we’ve advanced dramatically in our understanding and interaction with technology. But what happens when it doesn’t work? With our own rollout of the revamped RomanNet just three months ago, its clear Latin’s continuing to adapt to new technology. Even RomanNet had its own kinks to work out, particularly with its function on smartphones. Most of the RomanNet technical difficulties are directed to Latin’s server Whipplehill, which is also our provider for services like The Forum. Over the past few years, Latin has incorporated technology into the classroom, using sites like,, and for academic purposes., a site used to submit papers, has had server problems in the past. More common than Turnitin issues, however, are problems with the website WebAssign. A site used by some courses for electronic homework, WebAssign has been known to have the occasional issue: Elizabeth Carlson a junior whose Honors Physics class utilizes the program, says she “fortunately had technical difficulties only once. It was very stressful and frustrating. I started by reloading the page a couple of times and when that didn’t work I waited for a half an hour. Now, I try to do my WebAssigns in advance so I don’t have that issue again.” This technology-related stress also appears in other areas, such as the Global Online Academy (GOA) program. Another example of Latin’s transition online, GOA offers courses exclusively via the internet. Gianna Miller, a junior currently enrolled in a Global Online Academy class, says “it’s an amazing class and I love the concept of GOA but it is difficult relying on the Internet so much. Especially since sometimes they shut down the website for construction.” For many seniors, the most frustrating technical issues come from CommonApp, the program used to electronically submit students’ applications to colleges. The site has been heavily criticized for its frequent crashing: wrote an article headlined “High School Seniors! If you liked, you’ll love the Common App.” For seniors, CommonApp’s technical flaws has only compounded the college stress, creating unnecessary concern. In this day and age, it seems like we’re in a constant state of adjustment to new or improved technologies. I don’t know if this makes us more receptive to change or more frustrated when change goes wrong. I do know that, for many of us, technical difficulties often cause some of the most frustrating, helpless stress. Sure, the benefits often outweigh the concerns, but technology’s few imperfections are often the hardest to accept. Maybe these issues say as much about our nature as they do about technology’s.]]>