A Cloudy Conversation with My Mum

Traditionally (and I’m being careful not to over-generalise here) parents of the Baby Boomer generation are not as tech savvy as the Boomers (age 50 – 60), Gen X’ers (35 – 49) and certainly Millenials (21 – 34). This being the generation that grew up with “the wireless”, corded telephones (with a rotary dial) and black and white televisions with diminutive screens. Technology however is invading more and more on their lives as ‘webs’, ‘tablets’ and ‘clouds’ encroach into what they read and hear.

IT, like any profession, is guilty of creating it’s own language, supposedly to help those in the know understand what each other are talking about in a short hand form but often at the expense of confusing the hell out of those on the outside. As hinted at above IT is worse than most other professions because rather than create new words it seems particularly good at hijacking existing ones and then changing their meaning completely!

‘The Cloud’ is one of the more recent terms to jump from mainstream into IT and is now making its way back into mainstream with its new meaning. This being the case I thought the following imaginary conversation between myself and my mum (a Boomer parent) given my recent new job* might be fun to envisage. Here’s how it might start…

Cloud Architect and Mum

Here’s how it might carry on…

Me: “Ha, ha very funny mum but seriously, that is what I’m doing now”.

Mum: “Alright then dear what does a ‘Cloud Architect’ do?”

Me: “Well ‘cloud computing’ is what people are talking about now for how they use computers and can get access to programs. Rather than companies having to buy lots of expensive computers for their business they can get what they need, when they need it from the cloud. It’s meant to be cheaper and more flexible.”

Mum: “Hmmm, but why is it called ‘the cloud’ and I still don’t understand what you are doing with it?”

Me: “Not sure where the name came from to be honest mum, I guess it’s because the computers are now out there and all around us, just like clouds are”. At this point I look out of the window and see a clear blue sky without a cloud in sight but quickly carry on. “People compare it with how you get your electricity and water – you just flick a switch or turn on the tap and its there, ready and waiting for when you want to use it.”

Mum: “Yes I need to talk to you about my electricity, I had a nice man on the phone the other day telling me I was probably paying too much for that, now where did I put that bill I was going to show you…”

Me: “Don’t worry mum, I can check that on the Internet, I can find out if there are any better deals for you.”

Mum: “So will you do that using one of these clouds?”

Me “Well the company that I contact to do the check for you might well be using computers and programs that are in the cloud yes. It would mean they don’t have to buy and maintain lots of expensive computers themselves but let someone else deal with that.”

Mum: “Well it all sounds a bit complicated to me dear and anyway, you still haven’t told me what you are doing now?”

Me: “Oh yes. Well I’m supposed to be helping people work out how they can make use of cloud computing and helping them move the computers they might have in their own offices today to make use of ones IBM have in the cloud. It’s meant to help them save money and do things a bit quicker.”

Mum: “I don’t know why everyone is in such a rush these days – people should slow down a bit, walk not run everywhere.”

Me: “Yes, you’re probably right about that mum but anyway have a look at this. It’s a video some of my colleagues from IBM made and it explains what cloud computing is.”

Mum: “Alright dear, but it won’t be on long will it – I want to watch Countdown in a minute.”

*IBM has gone through another of its tectonic shifts of late creating a number of new business units as well as job roles, including that of ‘Cloud Architect’.

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