Monday, September 20, 2021

Age, Tech, and the Cloud

 Here is a solid example of how age impacts technology usage.

When I first began programming, I would encounter people who might have resisted storing any information on a hard drive because they felt it was unreliable, compared to storing on a piece of paper.  Now most of those people were not necessarily technically savvy, but some might have been and their resistance involved things like knowing that a strong magnet could wipe out that information.  It is only through constant empirical knowledge, that is, experiencing storing on media and being able to rely on it, even years later, that even a technically savvy person would have achieved comfort with this idea.

For those that entered the profession with "storing information digitally on media" as their comfort baseline, they were able to take advantage of that comfort to empower them to do more powerful things with data, enabling them to analyze more data, more reliably (because empirically electronically stored digital information trumped mistakes made by hand record-keeping) and, especially significant in a competitive economy, much faster.  Those that retained reservations about digital storage fell behind, and ultimately, in the dust.

Fast forward a generation.  The new normal is becoming to store information "on the cloud".  This meant on someone's server.  If it was a server you directly maintained, that was no different than storing, for the most part, on a local computer, and if you handled backup operations directly, maybe even on storage media.  But soon that "on the cloud" mushroomed to include things like "OneDrive".  Now, there are logical, technically savvy reasons to not feel comfortable with this, and not all of them are based on paranoia.  In fact, now we are in the realm of not only trusting the laws of physics, but trusting the laws of human behavior, as we have to trust other unknown people doing reliable backups and using proper data protection protocols (although maybe even imagining these functions are still in the realm of human behavior and not automation is its own kind of non-savvy backwardness).  Yet even in the previous generation, there is an equivalent: trusting that the device you were relying on, which essentially was built by another unknown human, tested by another unknown human, sold and packaged by another unknown human, etc) worked as intended.  


It feels different to trust putting files on the company's network servers (accountability, you can ask for someone in server admin's head to roll?) than on outside the company, on Microsoft's Cloud.  

Also, file access has long had its own idiosyncrasies that I have learned and have not changed in a generation or more.  Cloud file access seems to have UI changes that change in an instant.

SharePoint misery memory impacts this. SharePoint has left distaste in so many people and I have judged the root cause of this is having access permissions managed by end-users that are not tech-savvy.  How is OneDrive different, ultimately, in this?

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