Everything is frail to failure. Be it hardware, software, data, business relationships, or people, nothing is immortal and immutable.
Many things are immediately recognized; the hardware and software, but we fail to see people; the wetware. They represent the intellectual backbone of major projects, the "wet infrastructure" upon which our technology relies, and when they cannot contribute, their projects suffer and we suffer. Their influence isn't just notable, but critical.
Wetware are largely ignored because their project "just works" without need for attention. But when (not if, but when) they falter, their project will follow suit, sometimes into ruin. This is a very big problem for infrastructure-category projects.
One of these should put the point across..
- Make backups.
- Avoid a single point of failure.
Vertical integration secures a supply chain.
Supporting wetware and their wet infrastructure is something like an antidote to The bus problem.
It isn't only that all my heroes will eventually die (including me), but that everything they work on will crumble to dust without another person to pick up their work. For me, this is most painful when I think about Mythryl, a project which had the opportunity to make history (truly) but died with its author.
There are many projects which represent infrastructure to what we rely on, and there are many people who are the wetware which hold their project aloft. Too many of these projects and those people are not noted. This isn't about recognition and fame, but the pragmatic securing of a project's longevity.
Wetware is nearly mute when held alongside louder, "popular", projects. Those other projects have organizations with committees, fundraisers and sponsors, but wetware doesn't. These are individuals working on a private passion which we don't just benefit from but which we rely on.
Therefore, wetware needs to be found, noted, and supported.
I've had various versions of this in mind, many of which are in notes in deep archives that have yet to be ported here, but for the internet, esr calls them Load-Bearing Internet People and has a project working to address the internet-vision of this problem.