I said to my friend, “I’m so happy!!! I have DropBox configured so I can access my important files from anywhere. What in the world did we do before the cloud?”

Then I stopped. I realized I was alive before the cloud. How did I access my important files back then? Oh, yeah. They were in a notebook. I popped it in my $29 knapsack and carried them around with me. All my important files, available everywhere I wanted to go.

These days, I pop my laptop into that knapsack. The laptop is heavier than the paper files used to be. Then I add the power cords. And the wireless USB dongle. And my headphones. Then I lug it all until I find someplace that has WiFi, pay $14.95 for the privilege of accessing their WiFi, and access my files that I can view 2/3 of a screen at a time. And by the way, I now pay a substantial monthly fee for my internet connection at home for all this convenience.

“But this way, you don’t have to think about what to put in your knapsack! Everything’s at your fingertips,” my rationalizing gadget-loving brain cries. Uh, huh. That sounds good, but when I watch my actual behavior, literally 30 seconds’ thought before  I leave would be all it takes to figure out which files I need for a given day and pop them into my bag. In fact, I could do that faster than the time it takes me to pack up my power cord. And stopping to do that thinking would probably result in me doing more targeted, more important work, rather than just spazzing from thing to thing in a frenzy of mock-productivity.

Help me understand. Every individual step from there to here felt like progress. But I’m hard-pressed to consider the additional cost (in dollars, complexity, etc.) of the current state of affairs worth the additional output (mainly printing with proportional spaced fonts).

Progress? Or is there a high tech marketing person laughing her head off in some hidden back room, as she jots down notes in pencil, on her yellow pad, that fits neatly inside her thin, lightweight, fashionable backpack?

Productivity Before the Cloud

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