I have seen several discussions of how the pandemic is changing our attitudes about many things. For example:
With the catastrophic infection rate in New York City, of course many companies have switched to a work-from-home policy. This is of course common in many cities and many companies, but the discussion was focused on the secondary effects in NYC. Many big banks, real estate companies and similar outfits have tens of thousands of employees, normally working in vast, expensive real estate. As they are working from home and this is proven very efficient, many executives are questioning the need for getting them all into offices after the pandemic settles down. Everybody agrees there is value in face to face meetings, but we have learnt that this is less necessary on a daily basis than we thought. If this shift holds, what will be the implications for the business ecosystem of Manhattan? Real estate will be dramatically affected, several executives said they have huge leases coming up for renewal and they may not renew. But there is a big secondary economy in cities like that: restaurants, taxis, bike couriers… If we have learned that collaborating electronically, over the cloud, works well enough (or better because people don’t need to waste time commuting) this could mean a dramatic impact across parts of the local economy we haven’t even thought about. And note that the change is not so much about new technology enabling this, as it is about a new awareness among corporate leadership that this actually works. Like any big shift, this shift will have winners and losers.
I know people in the software industry that observe dramatic shifts in the adoption of remote collaboration tools, and who as a consequence are making massive investments in making those remote collaboration tools better, leading to more adoption…
I also noticed that Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, said during their recent quarterly financial report that the adoption of cloud has accelerated dramatically, things that were expected to transition over years are now transitioning in month. I have a personal interest in this, until I retired a few years I was involved in the corporate data center and cloud transition, and many companies were positive in principle but had practical barriers, from poor network infrastructure in some countries, to large investments in their own systems, to inertia. But with the current incentives, Microsoft is seeing a rapid change.
What do these things have to do with us? The infrastructure that makes these things possible are cloud-based, it has existed and evolved and improved for years, but the pandemic changes people’s attitudes. It isn’t a black-and-white thing, it isn’t that suddenly there is a need where there wasn’t one befors, but people are acknowledging and adopting this new way of working. And not just working, there is happy hour online, families and social groups socialize online. Because we know that we can.
Wrt music listening: there was a recent thread about how Roon shows local and online music in some circumstances, and I mused on how i think of myself as swimming in an ocean of music, some is local for various reasons (history, availability…), some is online, but I don’t pay attention to the difference when I’m playing. My “library” is virtual, it shows the music i care about, some is local and some is in the cloud, some is high res and some is not, the technicalities don’t matter. Somebody complained that you can’t LIKE an album or track without first adding it to the library, we know the technical reasons for that, but from a user perspective he wanted this hidden, Roon should just add the album to the library automatically. Makes perfect sense, fits my ocean-of-music mindset.
And I have written about my love of the recommendations function that combines cloud-based machine learning with the cloud-based long tail, driving an expansion of diversity.
But I know there are people here who dislike this. Who prefer to own the music and, if they don’t ignore streaming services altogether, view them as an adjunct to the real library and don’t want any forced intermingling.
But I wonder (yes, this is the punchline of this post!) if the pandemic will drive a shift in this respect. Not because it forces the shift: we can still buy CDs or downloads online, don’t have to break quarantine to get them. And not because the pandemic requires it, or even encourages it. Maybe just because it is becoming seen as a natural thing to do in the new world we are transitioning into.
I for one welcome our new cloud-based overlords.