Are you in?
There was a group of experts who were invited to discuss the future of the city of New York in 1860. And in 1860, this group of people came together, and they all speculated about what would happen to the city of New York in 100 years, and the conclusion was unanimous: The city of New York would not exist in 100 years. Why? Because they looked at the curve and said, if the population keeps growing at this rate, to move the population of New York around, they would have needed six million horses, and the manure created by six million horses would be impossible to deal with. They were already drowning in manure.
So what happens? In 40 years time, in the year 1900, in the United States of America, there were 1,001 car manufacturing companies - 1,001. The idea of finding a different technology had absolutely taken over, and there were tiny, tiny little factories in backwaters.
- Electronic document storage is only as good as your last backup. Sure paper can get destroyed in a fire, but your server is probably not going to be much good either.
- When your internet connection goes down you are paying everyone in the office to play Angry Birds on their phone.
- The cloud based systems often require specific OS's and software versions for compatibility. God forbid you want to use an OS which does not support ActiveX, or a user updates their Java version.
- At least for the HR system we use, it takes forever for performance reviews to get through the process because the provider has a website for crap, and we have no control over it.
- The dirty little secret for electronic document storage is that offices often print MORE paper than before. Most people print out the document to work with it, so rather than having one hard copy in the file folder you now have 6 copies in the recycle bid because they were read once and discarded.
- Ask your provider about the number of systems sold compared to the number of systems still actively used 24 months later. They sold you the system (and probably a yearly maintenance contract) but they DO NOT CARE if you use the system or not.
- Trees are a renewable resource. The coal that powers your office, not so much. And when paper companies can't make money selling paper they just sell the land to shopping mall developers. Where is the good in that?
Sure the business model of the internet news feed can beat the Rocky Mountain News trying to sell content thrown on your front yard. But none of those "outlets" originate the news content, they regurgitate what someone else paid a reporter to generate. Freedom of the press means that you can print what you want and the government cannot stop you. It does not mean consumers are entitled to all of the news for free just because it exists. Before the net gave you access were you entitled to a free daily copy of the New York Times in your home, office, or coffee shop? Even when you live in Omaha? Just because MSN will give you an article for free does not make it free to generate. What happens to freedom of the press when the "printing press" is free? Will the news business degenerate into something that looks like tech review websites? Where they decide what to review and what to say about something based on who is giving them a free sample and who is paying the freight? Will you be able to trust your news site when what they publish is based on web clicks and flash ads? Whose feet do you hold to the fire when a blog post is repeated around the world and it turns out to be made up by a drunk in Waco who was bored on a Friday night? Will Google print an apology and a retraction?
Although there are similarities to the music business, at least there you have clubs, concert tours etc where a group of guys who want to make a living in the business can do so even if 90% of what they generate is pirated off the net for free. How many of you will go to a Ruben Navarrette, Charles Krauthammer or David Ignatius concert? They write columns for the Washington Post Writers Group, syndicated in almost 200 papers nationwide. You have probably read some of their stuff on your favorite news feed. How do real news reporters make a living when there is no one to pay for what they write? They quit the news business and turn it over to Perez Hilton.