Author : Todd Keisling
Mrs. Taggart sat down at her desk and sipped her coffee while going over the day’s lesson plan. When the clock struck eight, she set down her coffee, reached behind her ear and synced herself to the network.
White, snowy static filled her eyes, and when she blinked, she found the virtual classroom before her. A group of thirty students sat at their virtual desks, some attentive, some not so much. She cleared her throat.
“Good morning, class.”
“Good morning, Mrs. Taggart,” they said.
She took the morning attendance, going over the connection log embedded in the virtual desk, and frowned when she saw Dave Johnson had not yet connected. When she looked over at his desk, she saw his outline filled with the repeating text of “Error 404.” She frowned. This was his fourth absence in two weeks.
Mrs. Taggart flagged his name, marked it â€œSchedule conferenceâ€ and minimized her registry.
â€œToday we will continue our lesson on human technology and the early 21st century. Sarah Billings, from your homework, what can you tell me about the year 2012?â€
A young, blonde-haired girl sat up. The surface of her desk flickered to life. Mrs. Taggart grinned.
â€œWithout your personal Wiki, Sarah.â€
â€œSorry, Mrs. Taggart,â€ Sarah frowned. Her desk dimmed. â€œ2012 was the year worldwide bandwidth consumption surpassed available bandwidth resources.â€
Mrs. Taggart nodded.
â€Good. What came next? Um, letâ€™s see . . . Phillip? Can you answer that question?â€
Phillip fought back a yawn and answered, â€œThe Bandwidth Crisis.â€
â€œUh . . .â€
â€œCan anyone help him out?â€
Another young man smirked and raised his hand.
â€œThe Bandwidth Crisis was a period of twelve years when civilization went down the tubes.â€
Some of his classmates chuckled. Mrs. Taggart paused, thought it over and then nodded.
â€œI suppose thatâ€™s true, Darian, but what did it mean, exactly, to civilization?â€
â€œIt meant weâ€™d overlooked the fact that bandwidth was a vital resource. We ignored it, and when the tubes were clogged, our entire information structure collapsed.â€
â€œGood. And to what did this lead?â€
A dozen hands went up. This delighted her. After a momentâ€™s deliberation, Mrs. Taggart called upon Maggie Simmons.
â€œIt lead to the invention of the NeuralNet.â€
â€œThatâ€™s correct, Maggie. Can you tell the class how this amazing invention works for us?â€
â€œWell, it means that we all sort of broadcast our own wi-fi signal via brainwaves. All of our neural bandwidth is shared with the help of the transmitters implanted just behind the ear.â€
â€œRight,â€ Mrs. Taggart said. â€œAnd this is exactly how weâ€™re able to have class without leaving our homes. Using our brains as our own personal computers has revolutionized our way of life, and helped pull civilization out of an otherwise dark period. This doesnâ€™t mean the bandwidth issue has been resolved. Since we all share our neural bandwidth, we must be sure not to exceed our daily allotmâ€”â€
The classroom shifted. One of the studentsâ€”Jeremy Danielsâ€”was in the process of raising his hand, and continued to do so repeatedly. Mrs. Taggart checked the studentsâ€™ bandwidth stats. She frowned and terminated Darianâ€™s processes.
Jeremy Daniels stopped raising his hand. Someone in the back of class said, â€œMajor lag.â€
â€œDarian,â€ Mrs. Taggart shouted. â€œWhat did I tell you about looking at pornography during class time? You know your bandwidth is to be used only for school. Principalâ€™s office. Now.â€
She initiated transfer protocol. Darian vanished from his seat before he could say a word.
â€œRight,â€ she said. â€œBack to the lesson.â€