2020 and the Death of Information Technology

Via Robert Cringeley:

IT — Information Technology — grew out of something we called MIS — Management Information Systems — but both meant a kid in a white shirt who brought you a new keyboard when yours broke. Well, the kid is now gone, sent home with everyone else, and that kid isn’t coming back… ever. IT is near death, fading by the day. But don’t blame COVID-19 because the death of IT was inevitable. This novel coronavirus just made it happen a little quicker…

Amazon has been replacing all of our keyboards for some time now, along with our mice and our failed cables, and even entire PCs. IT has been changing steadily from kids taking elevators up from the sub-basement to Amazon Prime trucks rolling-up to your mailbox. At the same time, our network providers have been working to limit their truck rolls entirely. Stop by the Comcast storefront to get your cable modem, because nobody is going to come to install it if you aren’t the first person living there to have cable…

Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) extends both the network and a security model end-to-end over any network including 4G or 5G wireless. Some folks will run their applications in their end device, whether it is a PC, phone, tablet, whatever, and some will run their applications in the same cloud as SASE, in which case everything will be that much faster and more secure. That’s end end-game if there is one — everything in the cloud with your device strictly for input and output, painting screens compressed with HTML5. It’s the end of IT because your device will no longer contain anything so it can be simply replaced via Amazon if it is damaged or lost, with the IT kid in the white shirt becoming an Uber driver.

Since COVID-19 is trapping us in our homes it is forcing this transition to happen faster than it might have. But it was always going to happen.

Humble Book Bundle: Cybersecurity 2020

Humble Book Bundle: Cybersecurity 2020 is now available. Pay what you can afford –– as little as $1 –– for up to nineteen digital, DRM-free cybersecurity titles:

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Kirsten Gillibrand Proposes U.S. Data Protection Agency

via Protocol:

The so-called Data Protection Act of 2020 would create the country’s first data protection agency to oversee how privacy laws in America are enforced and guide Congress on the development of those laws. The agency would be empowered to impose penalties on companies that violate people’s privacy, taken them to court, field consumer complaints, and launch investigations.

“As our country and economy continue to evolve with the digital age, we face a national crisis as our personal data gets targeted — and not just for marketing by brands, but also to establish if we can access certain jobs, loans, or prices on products,” Gillibrand wrote. “Americans should be able to go to an institution that will look out for, and actively work to protect, their privacy and freedom.

Schools in Rural Texas Find Workarounds to Address Lack of Broadband, Digital Divide

A new report from my office looks at how the lack of broadband in rural Texas communities is crippling business and agriculture, and forcing schools to find creative ways to provide online access to students:

To close the gap, students often create “workarounds” to connect with online resources, such as gathering outside businesses and school campuses to tap free Wi-Fi. Hetherington says Bandera students were often seen waiting in line at the Bandera County Library after school to use its high-speed internet. Today, Bandera ISD’s BEC-provided Wi-Fi has been incorporated into its curriculum; for example, Alkek Elementary students take iPads down Main Street on digital “scavenger hunts” to hone their online skills. Texas school districts such as Huntsville ISD and South Texas ISD have outfitted school buses with Wi-Fi so students can study during the ride home, while Weatherford ISD has provided signage and even recycled hardware for local businesses that want to offer students free internet access.

The Home Computer Christmas War of 1983

Fantastic article on the battle royale between computer and gaming manufacturers in the runup to Christmas in 1983:

Coleco had entered the videogame console market late, introducing the Colecovision in mid-1982 just as Atari was beginning to wear out its welcome with the public. With its superior graphics and sound, and Donkey Kong as its pack-in game, it sold well before Christmas, but was not immune to the plague ET subsequently cursed the industry with and when Coleco management saw consumer sentiment was turning toward home computers they saw an opportunity to jump trains. The marketing department decided their ideal customer was parents of less-technically savvy teenagers who needed to do school assignments and wanted to play arcade conversions, and so they suggested adding a printer, keyboard and tape storage to the existing Colecovision console, rather than develop an entire new machine. It was hoped this could get the computer, christened the Adam, to market faster, but adding all those peripherals was trickier than expected, and despite promises to retailers Coleco failed to deliver most of the units in time for Christmas – and many of those they did deliver were defective. Poor reviews and disappointed potential customers coloured public sentiment and the Adam bombed, taking the Colecovision with it.

Loneliness is Instagram’s Hottest Trend

Kaitlynn Tiffany at The Atlantic:

In a different era, the It Girl was someone whose photo was taken by onlookers at all the good parties. The new It Girl is someone who takes photos of herself, at home. She spends her time alone and is seen on Instagram, where her “art direction” is what makes her desirable. These young women, Stagg notes, “are, more often than not, self-described homebodies, even antisocial. Today, a cool girl is coaxed from a bedroom iPhone shoot into a professional studio.”