All technological change is generational change

May 19, 2011

In my last post I explained why arguments over private clouds are a by-product of our industrial era, top-down thinking and how this will change over time. A few days later I found myself reading the closing paragraph in Nick Carr’s The Big Switch:

All technological change is generational change. The full power and consequence of a new technology are unleashed only when those who have grown up with it become  adults and begin to push their  outdated parents to the margins. As the older generations die they take with them their knowledge of what was lost when the new technology arrived, and only the sense of what was gained remains. It’s in this way that progress covers its tracks, perpetually refreshing the illusion that where we are is where we were meant to be.

We should always keep this point in mind when arguing over the “validity” of different types of clouds.

Those of us in control of today’s enterprise IT are destined to spend our time puzzling and arguing our way through transition. We are not equipped with the mindset, the technical or institutional context necessary to imagine a world of ubiquitous public utility computing; our fears and expectations are shaped too heavily by our past and what we already know.

Only when today’s IT decision makers have been replaced by the next generation will the true significance of cloud computing become apparent. It will be this generational turnover, together with the much discussed effects of commoditisation, that will combine to create our cloudy future.

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