becoming all connected

How we and our computers connect to each other has changed over the years. Today I’ll provide a glimpse by looking at how a few devices in my home (albeit a two-geek household) interact and how that’s changed.

We definitely own more devices today than we did a decade ago, I expect that is the same for you as well. Today we’ve grown beyond a computer each to also include a laptop, tablet, and cell phone that we call our own. You may also have most of these on your device list too.

We also have an extra computer in the house you may not have, there is a server in the basement that we use for our development work.

Yes wifi was available ten years ago, though it wasn’t as affordable/ubiquitous as it is today. Then our computers (and home server) were connected to each other through a network of ethernet cables. We’d have to remember to move files while we were plugged in, or find a usb thumb drive, or even burn a CD if the file was large; sometimes we’d move files we might need when out of the house to a private place on an external web server so we could access them anywhere.

Today we have wifi, that alone has removed cable clutter and allows us to work anywhere in the house. While we have that server in the basement, thanks to popular services such as Dropbox, we don’t have to worry if we remembered to move a file, this seamless interconnectivity through the cloud provides access to the file(s) we need anywhere, as long as we have internet access.

There are more devices we can connect, more things that they can share beyond files, and more ways that we can interact with them, both within our home and beyond. I’ll discuss these items in a future post.

However, there are tradeoffs and trust is needed when we start interacting with our devices in this more modern way. I’m not picking on any one service or implying connectivity issues, it’s easier to begin to explain with services you are most likely familiar with. After adding a file to Dropbox, I’m trusting that the copy I’ve shared (even if it’s just with myself accessing it with another device) will be available when I need it.

Why did I begin a discussion on this topic? The Internet of Things is a hot and often controversial topic. We want our devices to be smarter and know more about us so they can make more improved decisions. We like the convenience of knowing how far we walked each day and how that compares to our friends or the most efficient route for our commute home. Yet, there are tradeoffs, especially if a device only provides benefit when connected to a third party service and that service shuts down. Do you need to be a super-geek to have a home of connected devices that can survive the ebb and flow of different technology companies?

No, but you need to be smart and think about the foundations you are setting with each technology choice and connection you make.

I hope over the next few posts to provide you with a framework to be able to make informed choices.