I am a “neo-Luddite,” have general reservations about each new “e-thing.” I get unhappy facing a computer change. My PC at home is 11 years old; I’ve never learned how to use a fingerswipe pad; and I’m unsure how a “tablet” differs from a “laptop” – but I’ve been told I’ll have one soon and learn to use it).
On Friday, March 13, preparing computer files at work for the promised connectivity on my home machine the next Monday, the first day of “working from home,” I gamely accepted that I could and would learn that and keep working. And it happened, assisted by IT staff who proved more helpful in their cyclonic turmoil than I expected. Two weeks later we were presented with “Global Connect” and I adapted to that, which allowed us to do all our work as quickly as in the office. After decades of promising “the paperless office,” in only a few days we stepped over that receding goal straight to “officeless work.”
The most astonishing thing I’ve learned is Zoom (and Teams and Lifesizecloud and one or two others in that universe). The astonishment was less that I figured each out quickly, but that these things were able all but instantaneously to deliver themselves to huge multitudes all the time, usually with few or no hiccups. They inflated to a volume unanticipated by their creators and managers for the year 2020 and expanded as if they were ready for this. I suppose they must have determined that “someday” we’d be living in “the cloud,” which actually could be what Hollywood showed in “The Matrix.” As in the movie, how or why could we know, having long-since normalized the advertised idea that our lives – critical information about each of us – would be well-protected and preserved in vast and fast silicon-electron dances with huge carbon footprints by the largest corporations that have broader designs than we can imagine? (What possibly could go wrong?)
Since mid-March I’ve learned a lot of “e-stuff” that in my personal life I’d have avoided. The learning continues. A couple of weeks ago I realized “smart” had devolved to a marketing ploy. A product called “Pretty Litter” is described as “smart” because it turns different colors depending on cat urine chemistry, alerting “cat parents” (yeh, I learned this just today, also…not happy about that) to health problems. That does not make the product “smart.” Something truly smart wouldn’t choose to be a cat toilet. The most recent thing I learned is that being “smart” associates one with cat scat. How I wish I was (still) ignorant of that.