Generations of technology users...

I had the opportunity to help my mom this weekend get her computer up and running (and not a new computer, but one that is about 8 years old). She wanted to get connected to the internet again, and that meant moving her from a wired connection to a wireless connection. OK, no problem there, just plug in a Wifi USB adapter and we're done (well almost, but it took a bit longer than that).

But I don't want to write about her PC, I wanted to write about her perception. My mom is used to "computers" - she had been around them when she worked as a newspaper publisher for a local telephone cooperative. But she had a problem with relating to the "available anywhere" concept. She kept worrying that her email would not be on her PC, because she has been using my sister's computer for last couple years. I kept reassuring her that her email was not in the PC, but was "out there" on the internet. She never actually got the concept, but accepted my explanation and assurances.

This really isn't too much different than discussions I've had with co-workers about "cloud" computing. Where is the cloud? and why should I trust it to handle my business? Good questions - because the Cloud is nowhere and everywhere at the same time. Google for instance, doesn't really "backup" your Gmail account, it just has it multiple locations on their infrastructure - I've heard that it has six instances of it - but the number does not matter. It's the fact that I don't worry about where it is, or how I access it, it's just there. With my phone, my laptop at work, my laptop at home, my tablet - I have access to Gmail.

That's the concept that my mom had a problem with - that it resides "out there" not "in here". To her, it was not a concept she easily grasps. But on the other hand, my son of twelve, doesn't question where the data is - to him, it's not something to worry about. Where the data resides is the least of his worries - and even the concept of backing up data is foreign. The closest he comes to this issue is converting his purchased iTunes music to MP3 so he can download to his phone (because he uses an Android phone, not an iPod or iPhone). But that is starting to be a non issue, because he also listens to music via YouTube, Rhapsody and Pandora - which once again just provides the music regardless of "where" you are.

The world is changing, And the concepts of computing and technology are changing on a daily basis. The limits we had a two decades, or even two days ago, on how we use computers/smart devices is being turn upside down and all around. It's both exciting and daunting at the same time. Who knows where we will be in a couple years - the pace of change is accelerating - and it will only get faster.


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