It’s hard to remember the early days of computing, before the time when the Internet was in every pocket. The reason it is hard to remember those times is not that it was so long ago, but that by today’s rights we hardly consider it computing to use an unconnected box of silicon.
By the mid-90s, it was commonly said that if your computer was not connected to the Internet, it was nothing more than a dumb box. The 21st Century brought us broadband, then unlimited broadband at home, then broadband in our pockets. We have turned a corner that can never be unturned. Here are some of the ramifications of those changes:
Security Will Never Be the Same
Around that corner are new and exotic dangers, the likes of which we have never seen before. One purveyor of data loss prevention software put it this way:
Now more than ever, your data is on the move—whether it’s on a laptop, flash drive, or moving across physical, virtual, and cloud infrastructures. At any point along the way, your financial data, customer information, intellectual property, or trade secrets could be lost or stolen. Securing this data is further complicated by several growing risk factors…
It is not just the enterprise that has to worry about these new threats from the cloud. It’s everyone. You are far more likely to be targeted, attacked, and robbed online than physically. Identity theft is often carried out by people who never have to leave their house to perpetrate the crime.
You can have your social media accounts hijacked, your passwords compromised and changed so that you are locked out, and your entire hard drive encrypted and ransomed back to you for a princely sum. Your most important information can be compromised via the cloud through some silly quiz you did on Facebook. By all means, lock your doors. But your more present danger is in the cloud.
Entertainment Will Never Be the Same
Have you been keeping up with the political machinations of Frank Underwood in House of Cards? How about Matt and Foggy in Daredevil? Are your kids hooked on the latest crop of YouTube shows? They’re not alone. There is an entire generation of kids and teens who get their entertainment exclusively from streaming media.
These shows would not have been possible not so very long ago. To most of its users, Netflix only exists on the Internet. YouTube was born on the Internet. The current generation of music lovers do not own a radio and they are unfamiliar with music stores. If it is not on Spotify, Apple Music, or some other streaming service, it doesn’t exist.
This streaming revolution is not confined to the home. But thanks to abundant LTE, has gone mobile. We can watch the big game when we are riding in plains, trains, and automobiles. From music to TV, the entertainment industry is reeling from the changes, and are trying to find new business models to accommodate the new realities. With such ubiquitous access, there has never been a better time to be a fan of just about anything.
The Digital Divide, or, The More Things Stay the Same
Some things will never change. Some corners will remain unturned. There will always be a wide margin between the haves and have-nots. The cloud is not equally distributed. For the most part, the poorest parts of the country and the world are hampered by Internet speed that is inadequate for experiencing the full possibilities of what the cloud has to offer. This digital divide even extends to cities, not just individuals.
There is nothing to be gained from looking back and wondering what if. The page has been turned. Computing will never be the same, even our favorite apps and services are in the cloud. Security will never be the same. Entertainment will never be the same. And the digital divide is being played out on an entirely new front. The forecast is in. It is going to be perpetually cloudy. And that is a very good thing indeed.