My tendency is to write when I’m in the air. Thankfully for you, it’s not every time I’m in the air or I’d be writing a lot; a really lot! There’s something, I want to say, ‘thought provoking’ or ‘liberating’ about sitting in a plane for eleven hours, but that’s not quite the sentiment I’m looking for. More like ‘mind-numbing’ I think. There certainly is time to think when you’re staring out the window at the clouds and listening to “the cabin crew’s favourite music choice” (!!!). I suspect the propensity to think and write is also something to do with that dispossessed feeling you get travelling on business. There’s an imposed normality to it that somehow doesn’t quite match the reality; a desensitisation to the excess of walking down ‘The Strip’ in Las Vegas, realising that driving down 101 south of San Francisco in a Mustang is basically a rubbish experience and moving back and forth through so many time zones so quickly you neither know what day it is, nor what country you’re in. All this, I think, contributes to my choice of travel companions; three friends I wouldn’t be without.
The first two are obvious. Passport. There’s a year left on my current one, which is held together with security stickers thanks mainly to Virgin Atlantic. They never seem to come off so I just leave them. Nobody seems to object (apart from a ‘tut’ from the lady at the United check-in desk). So until I can ‘carry’ my passport on my phone I’m ‘sticking’ to the paper variety. Not even biometric, for the time being at least – old school, analogue, physical.
Wallet – again, obvious. Not going far without that. Specifically the corporate card. It really is my flexible friend. (Wait, wrong brand and twenty years out of date). Anyway, my flexible friend, except for right now. It’s just packed up, on the first day of a week of travelling. Log in and find out what’s going on. Wrong password. Ugh. Email me a new one, except of course the email never arrives, so I ring the helpline which is delighted tell me, having entered all my details, etc. that they are super busy (when aren’t they) and that the next available agent will answer my call, which is important to them, in a week or so. That’s all outstanding because fortunately I’m not busy of course, so let me know when it suits you for me to contact you, why don’t you. Clearly, said organisation is not alone in this approach. Ok well I have to get in a plane so I guess I’ll find out when I get there whether or not whatever the issue is, can be sorted quickly, or not, or whether I’m stuck in a foreign country with limited means of payment.
So, on to the third and final item. My phone. Again it’s the same for most people probably. I can pretty much do without a laptop, iPad, etc. if I have my phone but the interesting thing is that it isn’t the phone as such that I want to carry with me. Yes, ok so I have a non-cabin crew chosen selection of music on there should I need it on a flight, but the reality is that it’s largely a means of accessing my stuff that’s elsewhere. What I’m seeing as I stare out the window at the clouds is that ‘the cloud’ however you choose to define and use it is becoming ever-more pervasive and yet less and less visible. Less distinct. There’s an assumption on my part that wherever in the world I land I’ll switch on my cloud access device and be able to get to all my stuff. When it’s offline it’s basically a brick. The concept of amount of data, cost, location and all the other practicalities go out of the window. It’s not a ‘check-me-out, nice-to-have’ any more, it’s a need – an expectation. With the type of capability I can have at my fingertips now if I don’t have what I need with me I can typically get what I need (in a business sense, you understand) generally straight away.
All this presents me with a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge is two-fold. From a personal perspective, who backs up the cloud? As I noted previously, there’s all sorts of apps connecting to all sorts of other apps and moving data around, etc. Is it all protected. The answer, presumably, is “no idea, but I hope so.” Facebook, for instance. The average user has over 200 personal photos uploaded. Given that there are now more than one billion Facebook users (apparently) there’s an interesting set of question buried in there somewhere, The second part of course is, who backs up the cloud from a business perspective. But it’s more than that isn’t it? Who keeps the cloud available – not the cloud itself but the stuff in it. There are so many variables. Availability isn’t just knowing its there. Surely it’s being able to get it wherever and whenever I want it. Today was a classic example. Rather than having an app to show my mobile boarding pass, today’s airline prefer to text me a URL which I browse to on my phone, except of course when you’ve had your phone tucked away and it has no signal so you’re boarding pass is, well, still in the cloud, so to speak. Interesting. If I can get it to the cloud and secure it on its way to, and in the cloud can I also help to ensure its availability as and when it’s needed. Gone are the days of sitting in from of a PC and connecting to a fileshare.
So herein lies the opportunity. Is it feasible to have all that stuff backed-up, available when and where I want it, shareable with whom I want whilst being protected all the time in case I leave my cloud access device in a yellow cab? From a device, available to me on another device or to someone else I choose on their device. Here’s hoping the answer is yes but that it’s also possible just to rely on my other two friends. Passport and wallet. Neither of them are very ‘cloudy’ but then generally when I take them of my pocket, at least I don’t get a ‘no service’ problem!