So I’m looking for a photo. An electronic one, of course. And since my camera, or phone, or whatever it is, automatically names them for the benefits of machines, I don’t know what it’s called. When I want to search for it I have to scroll and scan through hundreds of images. It’s the price we pay for letting technology run things. Okay, so it’s made life easier; I’m down with that. Still, I would like to know where my info is. I learned to find files by navigating to them, something computers taught me how to do. But computers move things around while we sleep.
Now that Covid-19 has moved in to stay, we all use meeting software to stay in touch. Most of us use Zoom so businesses naturally prefer Microsoft Teams. I don’t know the details of Teams so I watch a video tutorial. The Microsoft official (well-paid enough to dress casual) is explaining that you can attach things in Teams, something that we’ve all had to learn how to do in email school. He says that those sharing in your chat don’t know where the actual document is. “Who needs to know?” (I’m paraphrasing here), he says. “Nobody needs to know where it is.” This is my fear—my personal files need to be where I can find them, not on some sleepy server halfway around the world. Just the other day the internet went out here. Just for a little while, but those were panicked minutes nonetheless. I don’t want my files bumping around in a cloud when I need to know how to navigate to them. What if the server goes down right when I need them? I don’t trust clouds. Zeus raped Io in the form of a cloud, remember.
I’d feel better about all this if those of us pen-and-paper types were involved in the discussion. Nothing says “ephemera” like documents made of electrons. Maybe I need to spend more time with religions of east Asia where the idea of lack of permanence is key. Knowing where to find important things, however, has been a hallmark of Euro-American thought. And if your very own personal documents are being kept where you don’t even need to know where, how can you sleep at night? Some of us are kept awake still wondering where that thing we can find since we’ve moved might be. I get the spooky feeling that technology is training us. For what nobody can guess. As for me, I’ll get in line once I find that photo that I didn’t even name.