Users need to be less trusting of specific products, services, and companies having too much power over their technical lives, jobs, and workflows.
In this business, expect turbulence. And this is going to be increasingly problematic as (no turbulence pun intended) we move so much more to “the cloud”, which usually means services controlled by others, designed to use limited or no local storage of your data.
Always have one foot out the door. Be ready to go.
This isn’t cynical or pessimistic: it’s realistic, pragmatic, and responsible.
If you use Gmail, what happens if Google locks you out of your account permanently and without warning? (It happens.) What if they kill IMAP support and you rely on it? Or what if they simply start to suck otherwise? How easily can you move to a different email host?2 How much disruption will it cause in your workflow? Does your email address end in @gmail.com? What would have happened if we all switched to Wave? What happens if Facebook messages replace email for most people?”
Reasoning like this keeps making me want to own more of the technology stack, or at least have a paid contract with escape clauses (and backups). Marco goes on to mention the importance of local storage (with backups again. Cloud storage is not a backup). I scrape all my own tweets (daily), periodically download/export my Facebook account (that I keep meaning to leave, but never do - exemplifying the issue at play here), and keep plaintext backups of this tumblr.
Online services (and their providers) don’t stick around. They vanish, go away, stop working often. They get bought and then you lose everything. But since this happens all the time (also see software upgrades and backwards incompatibilities) we can’t just keep using the old thing, because that could go away too! This makes keeping things in open-ish formats locally really important. It’s thoughts like this that make Institutional Repositories make so much sense to me as well, especially (if one can afford it) locally hosted ones. You will hopefully be around far longer than the (usable) lifespan of most services, and you should plan around that, at both the personal and the institutional level.
“What is particularly crucial to understand is that books were not dragged kicking and screaming into each new area of capitalism. Books not only are part and parcel of consumer capitalism, they virtually began it.”
“All of this is not to say that Wikipedia represents nothing new. Certainly its size and the fact that millions upon millions of people have access to and actually use it make it unlike anything the world has ever seen before, and I don’t want to downplay those accomplishments. But it’s hard to discern what is genuinely new about Wikipedia and what falls in line with historical patterns if you only compare it to the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Instead, when you place Wikipedia in a longer timeframe, it seems that the historical anomaly was not today’s online collaboration, but the 20th century’s professionalized, bureaucratically produced tomes. In fact, this seems to be true of so many of the Internet’s “innovations”: Blogs look like 18th- and 19th-century publishers more than they do The New York Times or The Washington Post; small crafters selling their wares on Etsy look more like earlier markets than the 20th century’s big chains. We have a tendency to reach for the most recent historical examples as our benchmarks, but when you take a longer view, you see that we haven’t so much as broken with the past as repeated it.”
But yes, what IS new? Blogs and broadsides and status updates and incessant letter writing. We’ve been at this a long time. We just have shinier tools.
Longer views do really aid understanding, but new things do happen, if in scale at least. And scale does lead to real tipping points in social patterns if nothing else.
“There is little or no indication that innovative pedagogy motivates technological use in the classroom, which sort of flies in the face of how the use of information-based instructional technologies is usually presented,” said David R. Johnson, a Ph.D. candidate in sociology at the University of Georgia and the study’s author. Instead, the report suggests, technology is more often used by professors for managerial reasons, such as to help with the demands of growing class sizes. While Mr. Johnson said most college administrators are not yet requiring professors to use instructional technologies, the pressure of teaching more than 300 students at once, for example, leads faculty members to adopt technology in ways unrelated to improving learning.”
This should serve as a warning or caution for those of us enthusiastic about technology in teaching. Does it really help students directly? If not, does it free up time so that they can be helped better?