The Facts of Life in the High-Tech Age
Thursday, October 30, 2008
9:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m.
West Hall WE2
Session Type: General Session
* Moira Gunn, Host of Tech Nation and BioTech Nation, National Public Radio
Moira Gunn provides a unique perspective into the wide field of technology by integrating her background as a software engineer, her early career at NASA, her current work at the University of San Francisco heading the information systems programs for working adults, and her many in-depth interviews on NPR Talk with the leading figures in technology. In addition, Gunn’s experience integrating podcasting, wikis, and more into the adult curriculum gives her insight into the nature of technology and what we can expect from it.
She says that she was one of the 200 people on Arpanet when she worked at NASA.
She is not going to talk about technologies but visions and attitudes about the future of tech.
Arcs, not trends in technologies - they all have a rise and fall
IT professionals are often forced to use the old technology long after its life cycle
How the arc of technology follows the arc of IT management.
The effects on IT management: They try to manage the old technology using what they learned from the last round of technology (cribbed from McLuhan?).
The previous attitude was all about control - because IT came out of the military. Control of technology was a power struggle in institutions. Small community colleges could handle the changes better - smaller scale. IT departments started to mesh into the telephony on campus because of modems. Personal computers began to change how they related to individual users.
All of this was a struggle between centralized control and the individual. She recounted a story about a nasa engineer who said that going up in the shuttle to fix a sattilite was a terrible idea because you are merely introducing another system that can go wrong.
She hates push technology such as Adobe updates (the catastrophe that is Adobe 10?).
Our dealing with server farms is now like what the old mainframe was like. We should not be concerned with control but with integration. Cloud computing allows us to gain the benefits of server farms without the "footprint." The "iron age" is over - computer services is off campus. IT management is meant to help us trust the systems. We had legacy systems and now we have legacy organizations.
Arc of information: what has lived through all of these changes, we have always had information.
Old Purdue college memories follow... She had a college chum who invented the wiki and he was not understood. This is related to the arc of technology. Our relationship to wikipedia is changing - it is as right as anything else out there. The same wiki that was once dissed and abused is now respected by Stanford.
Those who build the technology can never predict how it will be used. Innovation occurs whenever new technology gets in the hands of another person. She recounts the "beat inflation now" but it was actually called "whip inflation now." Ford asked people to call in and give suggestions for beating inflation which lead to the invention of the 800 number.
We can't control applications, hardware, or information. Cloud: Trusted third-party data storage, she then suggests 4th party encrypted back-up.
She is still focusing on the institutions of technology. "You resist the cloud at your own peril."
She discusses opensource - what is important about Linux is that Torvalds knew that if he wrote a kernal of an operating system that he would not have to pay anyone. He sent it out when it was 80% done and let his friends contribute. He rewarded them by liscensing the source code - created technology that people could make a profit from - it was an economic innovation as much as a technical innovation.
Command and control is no longer our friend.
More college memories follow...
There are professors who use notebook paper and those who use wikis - first to deliver information and now to share and collaborate with information. Students self-organizing their work.
Students are publishing what they want. But in the teaching process, it is a transformative experience.
She then plugs her book.
She then says that we are now getting fast readouts from genomes. We will soon be charged with protecting information that students are leaving everywhere. Some of the things that we are going to be dealing with is the genomics inovations being folded into tech.
HIPAA only protects your health records when they are in the care of a health care professional. Where is the legislation to manage cloud computing? Our laws will not catch up with the technology. An Eddie-Izzard-esque stream of rhetorical questions follow...ex-husband sailing story...how to ride comfortably in a sail boat. Information is the constant - let the technology roll around you.