Over at Law21, Jordan Furlong has been the prophet of technological change, dedicated to the proposition that tech changes everything. And indeed, he’s proven himself right, but not in the way he hoped. After noting that he’s been good about saving his posts to Word files, just in case, he explains:
The reason why I take all these steps was amply illustrated yesterday when URL-shortening service Tr.im shut down with no advance warning. All of the stats it was tracking have disappeared, and all the links it created could be gone by Jan. 1, 2010. If you’ve been following me on Twitter, this could be problematic, since I’ve been using tr.im links for a few months now. (I switched from tinyurl.com and eventually from bit.ly simply because tr.im bought me one extra character to play with,vital in Twitter’s 140-character universe.) It’s a bigger problem for me, though, because I’ve been using Twitter as a micro-publishing tool, so I’ll now need to go back, click on all those tr.im links I posted, and resave them using some other method. That’s assuming, of course, Twitter keeps my old posts — Robert Scoble, for one, isn’t sure they even exist anymore.
Jordan’s post is a warning to others. I am amongst those others. We have a vast assortment of tech tools available to us, with a equally vast array of cheerleaders imploring us to move into the 21st Century, hop on the bandwagon, get with it. What few talk about is that some of these tools won’t be around tomorrow. Or the next day.
And as some tech falls by the wayside, so too will the content and connections we thought were safe.
I learned this lesson the hard way when my VoiP provider, Sunrocket, disappeared off the face of the earth one day, holding my telephone number captive. No warning. No notice. Just here today, gone tomorrow. Tough luck, baby.
Chances are pretty good that anyone reading this post has become dependent, to some greater or lessor extent, on the miracle of modern technology. Some love it so very much that they lead cheers, and maybe even pray to it in privacy. But the assumption that because it exists today, it will continue tomorrow, is foolishness.
New technologies come and go. I’ve got my old Iomega zip drive, on which I backed up a ton of data, which won’t work with the USB port on my rather pedestrian computer. If I need to access the data, I’ll need a new zip drive. But then, who needs a zip drive when my flash drive does it all, and better.
Then again, every post on Simple Justice is stored on a server located in the bowels of somebody’s business. I couldn’t tell you where, and it wouldn’t really matter if I could. I depend upon the fact that they will continue to be there, but if they pull the plug tomorrow because cash flow has dried up, everything would be gone. Unlike Jordan, I haven’t saved my posts to Word files. Or any other files. I just write, and let the magic of technology do the rest.
As some of Jordan’s commenters note, I consider it ephemeral, and it’s not like I would recreate it if it disappeared. But then, I would certainly prefer it remain in existence rather than disappear. And if it did disappear tomorrow, I might have a different opinion about its existence, since you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.
To anyone who has been around long enough to remember when vinyl was replaced by 8 tracks, you know better than to trust in the future of technology. Some of it never catches on, and some of it now seems so antiquated as to be laughable. What were we thinking?
Still, this hasn’t stopped today’s techno-savants from believing with all their heart and soul that the latest, greatest miracle of science is the final word. And they are betting their lives on it. Or at least their life’s work.
Having never had the mind for predicting the next great thing in tech, I demur to more savvy individuals. I’ve no doubt that Jordan is absolutely right that technology has, and will continue to, change the way we practice law. You can’t go back to the farm after you’ve used twitter (to micro-blog, I’m told).
But no matter how much you love technology, never forget that it doesn’t love you back. Thanks for the reminder, Jordan.