For the first time in the series I want to stop and consider the ramifications of cloud computing. Whatever work systems we use, we should be wise enough to know that there is an underlying worldview involved. That worldview may not be enforced by the creator of the system (the purposed worldview) and may instead be a product of the consumer (the received worldview) but it will be there, nonetheless. In the world of corporate culture, the cloud computing revolution has been driven by two factors, at least as far as I can tell. Those two driving forces are availability and efficiency.
The joy of having all your data stored on servers elsewhere in the world is the access we can enjoy to that data from any web platform on any computer in the world. The term geeks like me employ is “hardware agnostic” – the access to the data is not defined by a specific hardware configuration. Of course, this does not exactly ring true when an internet connection is a pre-requisite, but let’s not split hairs here.
Now that sounds fantastic to anyone that has trundled off to a business meeting only to find they brought the wrong flash drive, or the wrong version of a presentation etc. With cloud based storage, you can hop online and grab the files you need without any interruption to schedule.
It also means that if you are an executive on vacation, and that deal breaking moment occurs back at Corporate HQ, you can be engaged and ready to help push that thing through with all the information you needed to achieve said result.
But underlying all of that is one troubling premise: my work and, more specifically, my contribution to the workplace is essential. “If I am not available,” goes the thinking, “then everything is going to fail.” What we end up with is an idol of self, where I am the god by whom all things are sustained in my universe. It is the same thinking that leads people to forsake rest and sabbath. It is the replacing of the truth of the God of creation who makes and sustains all life, with the lie that created man is the one who makes his own world spin. Yes we are to work hard and to be productive, but not under the false allusion that we are self-made and self-sustained.
This dilemma is not unique to cloud computing, but is certainly exacerbated by the “always on, always available” mentality of operating in the cloud.
With the advent of web apps, we can be more efficient as we utilize time to complete or progress projects wherever we happen to find ourselves. Working on a business proposal at the office but need to go home? Sure thing – you can jump online later and wrap that thing up. It has certainly lead to flexibility, but with it comes the rise of production and the efficient mindset. It is a worldview that can easily begin valuing people on how much content they can put out, not on their inherent dignity as another human being or the quality of the work, or the integrity of their ethics. Make more, make it faster, get ahead.
But where then are the boundaries for healthy community life and for finding our identity in eternal things rather than temporary works of our own hands? When it is all about how much work I can get done, life issues of loved ones become obstacles and interruptions rather than avenues of grace and kindness towards one another. Again, I recognize this is not trait held only by the concept of cloud computing, but one must admit there is a greater propensity to live and work this way when we are always in a place where we could be working.
So why not take a break. Step away from your computer, go and find a friend and share a few moments resting together. You were made for more than just work my friend. Engage wisely.