a reckoning for tech by the humans that work with it

It’s going to get worse before it gets better. TechReckoning Dispatch v4n1


Hi Friends,

Unfortunately I’m thinking things are going to get worse before they get better. You might think I’m talking about politics, and I am, but let’s also talk about social media and cloud.

Social media

Anecdotally, I’m seeing more people opt out of social. Twitter and Facebook really only became widely available 6–7 years ago, and the iPhone is now 10 years old. We are still learning how to cope with always-on connectivity. Some reasons:

1. Social media started as a fun nerd way to connect. You could think of it as separate from “real life.” No more. Here’s a perspective from John Briggs on TechCrunch. Will the last person to leave social media turn out the light?

Social media has become a very real, very visceral, and very censorial force and it can now only worsen the human condition. It was once an experiment but that experiment is over. Like most things that calcify into the mainstream the joy of exploration is now gone, replaced by a grim determination to just get it over with.

2. In a similar vein, I’ve seen many people (mostly women tbh) drop off of social because they are being harassed.

3. Opting out to try to get more focused time. Each Twitter and Facebook refresh is a pull of the slot machine. It’s both a hit of endorphin pleasure and adrenaline outrage. Some people want to dial it down to get some focus. I can identify with this.(See also Geek Whisperers #126.) Here’s Craig Mod with How I Got My Attention Back on Medium’s Backchannel.

In “Gravity and Grace,” Simone Weil writes, “Attention, taken to its highest degree, is the same thing as prayer. It presupposes faith and love.” Then is the lack of attention the opposite? Does it presuppose fear and hate?

It had been a long time since my attention was mine. As the feelings of that day — of that eight-hour train ride past an America that suddenly felt very foreign — spread into the next and the next, I tried to think back to when my attention was something I could manipulate confidently. I couldn’t remember.

4. One driver of online social is the formation of interest groups and tribes. From pre-computer sci-fi fandoms through BBSes and VAX Notes and Usenet to Twitter and Facebook today, people like to get together with others than have similar interests.

Modern social media, where we all got poured into the same bucket, added context collapse — I can pop in and talk to Mark Cuban or Deepak Chopra or Taylor Swift or Michael Dell — and they might even talk back. It also means, however, that a conversation or a joke with friends — about politics or health issues or sexuality or even a shared interest in a cartoon — can suddenly be thrust onto a bigger stage, out of shared context, fed into a brigade of outrage culture, or just shared beyond our comfort zone. I see this as one of the drivers back towards segmented and private spaces — Facebook groups, Slack channels, and subject-specific forums.

5.These tribes, once they’ve found each other, find their voices. Let’s say you were alone and you felt like no one cared about your problems, but now you’ve found your tribe and it turns out the who tribe is being ignored too? One reaction is that you now have the power to speak your truth. Think you’ve been hearing more from women and people in color in tech lately? Social media and that context collapse acts as an equalizer of attention. I follow a lot of underrepresented minorities in tech (and in society in general) and they’re not waiting for journalists to tell their story — they are using the context collapse of social to get the word out directly. I also see this with groups on both the right and the left of the political spectrum. I could link to an essay by a gay black man saying he DGAF what white people think anymore, but I don’t want to take it out of context for you — if you’re interested in that kind of thing, you probably already saw it. So social is going to get noisier and more real for a while as people find their voices. There will be yelling. But really seeing and hearing each other as fellow humans is the driver for any sort of change or acceptance, and that’s how social media is eventually going to make things better.

The Cloud

The cloud is also going to get worse before it gets better. We’ll explore this in 2017.

1. AWS is getting more and more complicated and enterprisey and expensive. Will Google, Microsoft, Digital Ocean, and others step up fast enough to make all this easier?

2. Containers and cloud-native apps are ready for prime time ONLY IF YOU KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING. So cool, yet so many sharp edges.

3. PaaS is not a separate product category and will not save you. I don’t agree with every word of this David Linthicum InfoWorld piece but his basic point is that functionality is being layered on top of IaaS. Too late, PaaS, you missed your shot in the cloud.

4. Security OMG it’s horrible out there. The count as of Sunday is 1600 Elasticsearch and 34000 MongoDB instances that were accessible to the Internet are being held for ransom. Here is protection advice from Elastic.

5. You walled off the mainframe and kept it going. Please wall off your in-house monolithic apps and don’t try to lift-and-shift them to the cloud. It won’t end well.

6. There will be less “IT as we know it,” but probably more “IT.” Most normal apps in your company will be SaaS. Differentiated functions will be somewhat custom and cloud-native. There will be fewer rack ranchers. I don’t see the math coming out in any other way

With the old stuff on hold, and the new stuff still pretty raw, cloud is going to get worse and more complicated in 2017 before getting better.

Always Read The Comments

Several people cautioned me not to dismiss AWS-based desktops too quickly.

Colin Steele thinks it’s all about the apps and the streaming:

It doesn’t have much pull now, but the company has quietly taken several steps to build a foundation for success. DaaS is a niche within a niche, but AWS WorkSpaces provides a legit alternative to Citrix and VMware, especially for greenfield deployments. The future of desktop delivery will be more about individual applications anyway, and that’s where Amazon really has a chance to take off. Its new version of AppStream lets users stream desktop apps to any device through a Web browser. And on the native mobile app front, Amazon is positioning itself as a major development platform, as Beth Pariseau wrote earlier this year: http://searchaws.techtarget.com/news/450281027/AWS-mobile-portfolio-approaches-critical-mass.

And Thomas Brown thinks AWS has the consumption model advantage — horay for pulling out the credit card!

While I agree that the overall DaaS (desktop as a service) market revenue isn’t as high as expected given the parallel increase in SaaS and Mobile Web, if you were to look at the DaaS (desktop as a service) revenue I bet Amazon has a bigger share than most would expect. While VMware and Citrix have been the leaders in EUC forever, those are on-prem desktops and apps. I believe that the DaaS use cases are limited but the appeal of being able to swipe a credit card and get a desktop gives Amazon an advantage over both VMware and Citrix at the current point. If you were to use one of their DaaS products the process of contacting a sales rep, negotiating the price, etc. is very klunky and unappealing.

And upon reflection, I wonder if Data Gravity isn’t a factor here too. Once your data is up at AWS, then Desktop-as-a-Service based at AWS, with apps that access that data, makes much more sense. I wonder if this could be a use case for VMW on AWS?

Let’s Catch Up

The Influence Marketing Council from TechReckoning is off to a great start. Founding members come from companies both big and small, and our initial conversations are a lot around metrics, connecting back to the rest of the business, and figuring out how to cost-effectively make content that is actually useful. If you work in a role that involves making relationships — community, bloggers, influencers, user groups — you should check out the IMC.

Geek Whisperers #127: Becoming a Business Geek with Ed Saipetch. Ed talks about transitioning to a biz dev and CTO-like role, and about knowing when to jump.

Hope your 2017 is off to a great start! Just remember, even if it seems worse now, it will eventually get better if we all make it better, Please help the world become a better place.


If you like this newsletter, forward it to someone who needs good ass-kicking. For more groovy links, check out TechReckoning on TwitterFacebook, or LinkedIn. Photo credits: John Troyer at Chihuly Garden and Glass, MLK’s The Other America speech. Copyright © 2017 TechReckoning, All rights reserved.