Thursday, October 20

I don't trust "the cloud." Maybe.

There.  I've said it.  I don't trust "the cloud."  I use the cloud.  A lot of my stuff is in that ethereal digital space.  But there seems to be something a little wonky about not really knowing where it is and trusting that those servers, wherever they may be, are safe from hackers, from "acts of God," from whatever else.

I'm one of those people who has lost important work and not been able to recover it so my redundancy plans have redundancy.  It's not that I have to be able to see the physical medium on which my data is stored, it's just the weirdness of knowing it's somewhere but having no idea where the "where" is or who is safeguarding it.  I understand how it works, but that doesn't make it any less unsettling as I think about the proliferation of cloud computing as a solution.

There were some articles a few years ago addressing this issue of cloud computing and trust.  Gray Williams wrote businesses should trust the cloud.  Writing in June 2010, Williams said "The majority of IT decision makers remain underwhelmed with the cloud's current security, control and service assurance levels. And achieving regional regulatory compliance within the cloud today is difficult, if not impossible."  He also said that "[u]ntil public cloud providers can offer the things necessary for achieving regulatory compliance--monitoring, log management, strong authentication, authorization, encryption, penetration testing, dedicated firewall policies and intrusion prevention--we can expect the private cloud trend to continue."  I didn't even know there was a difference between public and private clouds until I read that, but it makes sense given concerns about all the things Mr. Williams mentioned.

"Hey, you!  Get off of my cloud!"  Come on, it's a reasonable digression and it sort of fits.  How can I be sure people are busting in on my cloud?

Anyway, I'm not alone in my radical unhip thinking about the cloud and its wonders.  But the more I thought about it, the more I realized the same arguments could be made about the Internet and a whole host of other resources, tools, and more.  If I really wanted to get esoteric, I could say something about it being similar to doubts people have about God and heaven, but I don't want to clutter this with spiritual implications that do not exist.

As I poked around the invisible Internet, searching through all sorts of digital resources stored in various clouds or other such non-visible cyberlocations, I came across the MIT Tangible Media Group which is "explores the Tangible Bits vision to seamlessly couple the dual world of bits and atoms by giving physical form to digital information."  Cool!  Hold up.  What?  "At the border between the atoms and bits, we are facing the challenge of reconciling our dual citizenship in the physical and digital worlds. Our group is addressing this challenge by designing human interfaces that employ physical objects, surfaces, and spaces as tangible embodiments of digital information and processes."

This is a remarkable transitional time in which to live and to contemplate that duality between the physical and the digital.  I will finish writing this blog post that will be published in a digital space.  There is a physical representation of my words and my thoughts, but it is only a representation.

Christopher Borrelli wrote an article titled "The trouble with the cloud."  Interesting.  Insightful.  In it he speaks of the MIT Tangible Media Group, but also quotes Susan Sontag.  Borrelli writes
To borrow from Susan Sontag's 1977 book On Photography, and its prescient essay on collecting, we live in a world "on its way to becoming one vast quarry."  And yet what is the value of a quarry with no bottom, inexhaustible and plundered without much effort and available for mining every day, at all hours?
It's a good question.  One about which many will feel strongly and in likely different directions.  It's a question that will take some time to answer.

Tuesday, October 18

Happy Birthday, you've been RIFd

Techically I was RIFd yesterday, the day before my birthday.  But the timing still sucked and there is no way to describe sufficiently the emotional cacophony that accompanies those words "and your position has been eliminated."  Really?  My position?  I literally did not hear the words the first time.  My brain simply refused to process them.  I heard waves crashing through my eardrums and someone sounding as though he was talking under water.

"Sorry?  What?"  Yes, I made him repeat them.  I think I did.  I'm not really sure.  I was too flabbergasted.  Angry.  Shocked.  Blindsided.

The HR guy tried to explain the severance package.  I know he has to do that, but it's not fair to make someone try to process that information as the brain is going into shock.  Seriously.  I told him I could not possibly process the information and he calmly said I could call him later.

They let me go back to my office to get my things rather than have someone go to my office for me.  I am somewhat grateful they afforded me that dignity and respect rather than the equivalent of what might feel like a perp walk to the front door.

I got in my car and waited as I knew there would be others from my team.  Those dreaded "different direction" words were the clear indicator that others would be let go.  I waited and met one of my former team in the parking lot.  She was in tears.  I could not comfort her.  I could only be angry with and for her.

I waited a bit longer.  No one else came out and then I really didn't want to be in that parking lot any more.  So I left.

A former colleague, who did not yet know he was a former colleague, called to report on a meeting.  We chatted.  I gave him the news.  He was shocked with me.  We talked for a long while.  As we talked, I realized I wasn't really angry any more.  I was okay with it.  Not because I won the lottery or have a ridiculous number of options from which to choose, but, well, anger gets me nowhere.

To be honest, I was most ticked by the timing.  I was feeling bad for my team because I figured they might do something for me for my birthday and how awkward that would be to have a card and a decorated office and treats and no birthday girl.  I wanted my office birthday party, dammit!

So here's the really weird thing.  Today has been one of the best birthdays ever.  Except for the missing office birthday party, it's been a very good day.

I miss my team.  I'm sorry for the rent this creates for them, but they are a resilient bunch and they will go on.  I regret that all of the good work we were doing is now wasted; that seems tragic.  I regret that others lost their jobs and wish I could have done something differently to prevent it though it's unlikely I could have done anything differently.

What's so odd is that last week I'd been thinking I should take home some of the stuff in my office, though I had no idea where that came from.  And Monday morning I was thinking it was the last day of that year of my life and I was really looking forward to a new sort of beginning with my birthday and the start of a new year.  Here it is.  Unfolding even now.

Happy Birthday to me.  Yes a very happy birthday to me.