Data for the Young and Old


Posted On Sep 15 2008 by

I’ve been doing a great deal of thinking about “network-level” applications for the last several months. Some people call it “cloud computing,” others “grid computing”…whatever. Suffice it to say that it is more than software as a service (SaaS), which is sometimes as far as libraries will go in trusting the network to their applications.

Now the Gen-X in me wants to be an ageist about this and say that older people just don’t get the power of cloud computing or SaaS. The former head-banger in me (yes, you heard me) recalls the words of Rob Halford, the Beast of Judas Priest, who said “you don’t have to be old to be wise.” The placater in search of middle ground in me says this all boils down to trust and control. As Microsoft, who is light on the former and criticized for its love of the latter, put it:

Trust, or the lack thereof, is the number one factor blocking the adoption of software as a service (SaaS). A case could be made that data is the most important asset of any business–data about products, customers, employees, suppliers, and more. And data, of course, is at the heart of SaaS. SaaS applications provide customers with centralized, network-based access to data with less overhead than is possible when using a locally-installed application. But in order to take advantage of the benefits of SaaS, an organization must surrender a level of control over its own data, trusting the SaaS vendor to keep it safe and away from prying eyes.
But now some new information has come to my attention…maybe I was right to be an ageist. According to Pew, younger Internet users are more inclined to store data online and use web-based applications and services that require storage of personal data.
Pew Cloud Computing by Different Age Cohorts
Trusting the network and relinquishing control. Are libraries ready for that?  Relinquishing control seems an anathema to most people because it usually means forfeiting functionality.  But think about GoogleDocs for a moment.  How much functionality is really lost when converting from Excel?  Not to mention what is gained–the ability to easily share data and editing responsibility across established groups and domains.
 
How old will librarians be when the benefits outweigh the fears?

Last Updated on: July 15th, 2016 at 7:23 pm, by Andrew K. Pace


Written by Andrew K. Pace


4 responses to “Data for the Young and Old

  1. As one of the 51% or so of Central Ohioans who are without power since yesterday (and may be for up to a week), I will note that the documents on my home, desktop computer that I was working on are unavailable.

    I can get to my Google Docs from any other networked computer.

    Absent issues of physics, weather and electronics… I’m not sure I trust Google more than I trust myself. Since, however, I have had a number of computers go belly up on me over the years, and since the weather isn’t listening to me at all…I find that “trust” isn’t the issue so much as “reliance.” I rely on the fact that Google’s hardware will not be as vulnerable as mine.

  2. As a member of the badly misnamed “silent generation,” I’ll suggest that it shouldn’t be an either-or proposition. I might be willing to use Google Docs for things where creation needed to be shared–but for all the one-person stuff I do (and yes, there are still those of us who do stuff on our own), I’d rather keep it out of the cloud, and I’ve done enough experimenting to feel confident that Word and Excel meet my needs more completely than Google Docs.

    Set aside my reluctance to give Google even more hooks into my computing life. Well, no, don’t set that aside.

    As for ageism…well, you said it yourself. (Would you like my resignation as chair of LITA PubCom, since I’m clearly a hopeless elder Luddite?)As a member of the badly misnamed “silent generation,” I’ll suggest that it shouldn’t be an either-or proposition. I might be willing to use Google Docs for things where creation needed to be shared–but for all the one-person stuff I do (and yes, there are still those of us who do stuff on our own), I’d rather keep it out of the cloud, and I’ve done enough experimenting to feel confident that Word and Excel meet my needs more completely than Google Docs.

    Set aside my reluctance to give Google even more hooks into my computing life. Well, no, don’t set that aside.

    As for ageism…well, you said it yourself. (Would you like my resignation as chair of LITA PubCom, since I’m clearly a hopeless elder Luddite?)

  3. Well said, Walt. I hope that your appointment goes some way to prove that I am not actually an ageist. Anyway, I prefer to count you among the not-so-silent minority within your age bracket. 😉

  4. Actually, for me it’s a combination of trust and privacy. Do I trust them to protect my privacy? to be ABLE to protect my privacy?

    Do I trust them to always be there? Do I trust them no to lose my data? (backups are the most important answer there, both for them and for me)

    I think cloud computing has potential, but I don’t know that it will ever completely replace the pc on my desk (or in my lap). Like Walt said, I don’t think it’s all one way or the other.

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