Without revealing too much about my age, I’ve been doing Internet/Web related work since the early 90’s and an active computer user since the late 80’s.
While much has changed since then, perhaps the biggest impact on my personal productivity has been the advent of cloud computing.
Nothing underscored that more than leaving my iPad at the airport on a recent trip.
Everything I do in my day-to-day work at eMagine, as well as volunteer, creative and household projects, use Evernote for notes, and OmniFocus to get on my task list. Key documents are up in Google Apps.
How much down time did I have as a result of losing my most critical productivity device?
Including the time it took to synch Evernote on my Windows desktop at work, approximately 3 minutes.
Contrast that to 2006, when my laptop was stolen from a client’s conference room, when it took me weeks to get fully rolling again.
Going back even further, in college in the late 80’s, my very first computer was an Amstrad word processor, which used CP/M – a precursor to DOS. The storage diskettes themselves were a proprietary format – so I couldn’t even use 5.25 or 3.5 inch floppies. While none of it was particularly worth saving anyway, that digital information is simply gone now. I had intentions at one point of transferring everything to 3.5 floppies, but the cost and time just wasn’t worth it.
An early example of the power of share-able data for me in those same years was the 3.5 inch floppy disk that helped grow a volunteer organization into one of the most successful campus service groups. Leaders simply passed volunteer names, key community contacts, and best practices information on year to year, so nothing was lost to paper binders or people’s brains, and could easily be accessed in any of the many computer labs on campus.
But beyond that, from the late 80’s to just a few years ago, we were all still reliant on physical backups of our data. Even backup services like Carbonite.com and iDisk simply mirrored the model, improving the integrity and accessibility of the approach, but still relying on a backup and restore process.
The primary difference between then and now is that my device is a portal to access information, rather than the work shop.
Now all my critical information is stored in real time, accessible across multiple devices, so the most I have to lose would be a sentence or two if lightning struck my computer or iPad while recording in Evernote on a call or if my iPhone battery died while entering a task in OmniFocus.
Adopting each successive wave of technology over the last two decades, I fancied myself a more and more mobile road warrior. But it’s only over the last couple years that all of us can achieve Jedi road warrior status, with no more worries about when your last back up was, or where it is – just the bliss of knowing that our most key information is there now, anywhere we are.
And that’s what makes the Cloud my sunshine.
P.S. My iPad was located and turned in at the airport the same day I lost it. While I’m still relieved, I’ve also lost my excuse to upgrade to an iPad 2. Maybe my next flight…