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What’s a Rolodex and why would I want one?

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When will the cloud break your heart?

“I don’t care if Google has my information,” said the sales woman.

Digital natives may be a lot of things, but one thing is certain: they aren’t too worried about technology. For them tech is a fact of life, like air and electricity and coffee—always there. Always ready. All slick and wireless and greased to go. That’s why Facebook is mostly just a free $13 18 20 billion Rolodex and Google is a verb. Thus has it always been. And so it shall always be.

Except when it isn’t.

Digital natives have abandoned themselves to the cloud assuming it will always be there. Mostly they don’t have a plan B when stuff goes away. Plan B is to call friends for numbers and addresses and recreate what they had before—but that’ll never happen because Facebook will be there, right?

I don’t put myself in the digital native category, which means I remember a bunch of dumb old stuff like phones with cords and 5 ½ inch floppy disks and, well, I won’t bore you with a kiln-load of nostalgia. But I retain crisp memories of this: important stuff vanishing with a bad piece of media. And an old computer simply destroying things I’d spent lots of time on. More than once. And that lesson stuck. That’s why my contacts and files reside in multiple places, including the cloud. That’s also why I do not assume Internet access in my travels. Instead I have this dumb game of searching for Wi-Fi wherever I go: just last week I ran across a signal called “Chuck Norris” in South Minneapolis. My many experiences losing important information have made me happy to seek redundancy.

The sales woman at the AT&T store has no problem storing contacts, messages and files with Google. Same with millions of us. Who cares if Google scans our communication and sends the right advertisers our way? Who cares if Facebook is about to have one of the largest IPOs in history, based on the dumb comments we type and the hours we spend on the site? Nobody cares—we get what we want out of the deal. We chat with people and divert ourselves with dumb games. Half of Americans think Facebook is a passing fad—and GM thinks their advertising with Facebook is a waste of money. Even if both of those are true, something more enticing and powerful will surely rise next.

I’m guessing down the road we’ll realize the much larger issue was not about losing stuff. And the larger issue maybe isn’t even that we’ve given away the keys to our connections between friends, family and acquaintances. We have yet to understand the full impact of this progressive-thought harvesting, but I’ll admit Nick Carr’s post on digital sharecropping has set me to thinking about where I spend my digits. It also makes me reluctant to entrust everything to the cloud and the enterprising folks who manage it.


Image credit: Chris Buzelli via thisisnthappiness

Written by kirkistan

August 31, 2013 at 5:00 am

4 Responses

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  1. The Cloud. The Borg. The horror.


    August 31, 2013 at 8:59 am

    • Dorian: Google knows where you are going before you know, based on your recent searches.


      August 31, 2013 at 9:13 am

  2. Good post, thanks for the reminder that technology isn’t meant to be an end to itself–but many of us treat it this way when it comes to personal information and images. I know I’m not entirely pleased with my ‘plan B’ if something happens to Google, so I will have no one to blame if something does happen.

    I think there is a market of some sorts for a service to help organize and secure their personal information. Everyone knows this is just common sense, but in today’s fast-paced society, we simply don’t take the time we should to make sure our digital data is organized and safe. Perhaps we need more ambitious librarian-type people to step outside box and help us out?


    September 5, 2013 at 7:41 am

    • Thanks for the note. Hey–I know a guy like that. What if there was a Data Safe App. That would be cool.


      September 5, 2013 at 8:50 am

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