Two events recently reported in the news, that to most people are entirely unrelated, reminded me that the efforts you make to do your work have far-reaching results. Many times the role of cabling is invisible to all but the most keenly tuned in.
The first report was the 60 Minutes feature on Michael Lewis and his book Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt. I did not see the original airing of the feature, but once I heard what it was about and took a look, I had an immediate thought. And I have to believe some of you had the very same thought: The extremely low-latency networks on and around Wall Street enable the "rigging" of the U.S. stock market, to use the book's term. By supporting such low-latency networks, the cabling plays some part in the book's "Wall Street crushes Main Street" theme.
When pondering that, I remembered a little of what I learned in an ethics class many years ago. That memory goes something like, "In order to be 'good,' an act must be done well and must serve an ethical purpose." Or: Being good at bad things is bad; being good at good things is good.
Lewis's book kind of puts that ethical dilemma in front of us. Our industry has succeeded at building low-latency networks (good), which have bred high-frequency trading (bad).
Despite the apparent ethical pretzel, I didn't lose any sleep over this one. The reason is very much in line with what I said when I had the honor of speaking at BICSI's 2013 Fall Conference. By doing well at a network-physical-layer project, you're also doing good--sometimes more than you'll ever know. The example I used then relates to the second recent news report. Particularly poignant up here in the Northeastern U.S. was the 2014 running of the Boston Marathon, after last year's attack on the event.
Three days after the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, the FBI released still images of the suspects that had been captured by a nearby retailer's video-surveillance system. Within hours, one of the suspects was dead and the other was in hiding, soon to be under arrest. Thanks in large part to that surveillance footage--enabled by physical-layer cabling--the two suspects did not carry out their next objective, which was the explosion of homemade bombs in New York City's heavily congested Times Square.
That retailer's surveillance system was installed for loss prevention. It helped prevent the loss of life. You never know just how important your next project will be. Treat it as if it matters this much. It just might.
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