Article in partnership with Google Cloud.
Digital technologies have become permanent fixtures in our homes, offices, and social lives, filling the spaces between our television screens and electronics. In fact, mobile phones and social media platforms have become so ubiquitous that we only tend to pay attention to them, or notice their presence, when they break down or experience a glitch. As we continue along our post-digital journey, Google — with its Distributed Cloud — is helping us to advance, with an eye to sustainability, accessibility, and safety.
By the end of the 19th century, electricity had begun to replace candles and gas in people’s homes. Although it may be hard to believe in this day and age, those who could afford it were actually considered privileged. Now, if we flick on a light switch and nothing happens, or we lose our Wi-Fi connection, it disrupts almost every aspect of our lives, and we tend to focus on it until it gets restored. We notice its absence immediately, understand what it means to our daily lives, and — those who are resourceful — try to come up with workarounds to fill the incredible void.
Every day, we expect our computers to respond immediately when we want to read an email, complete an online transaction, or read social media posts. We are used to having endless possibilities to connect with other people and to being at the center of the social media stage. And, like anything else, we want more.
The indispensable role that digital technology has come to play in our lives, especially in the Global North, reaffirms that we’ve entered the post-digital era.
Without realizing it, we find ourselves generating more data and using more digital services to meet our ever-growing expectations. On the technical side, all of these interactions and connections carry a significant cost, and are far more complex than most people realize. However instantaneous, the simple act of “liking” a Facebook or Twitter post involves executing hundreds of lines of code and generates a wealth of data. Posting a photo on social media requires a certain amount of memory space.
The point I want to underscore is that this is only in our personal lives. Our work is becoming increasingly linked to, and dependent upon, digital technologies — particularly in the midst of a global pandemic. Production activities have become connected to the point where “supply…