The Metaphor Doesn’t Work Anymore: Desktop Metaphor to Cloud Storage

In the Libraries at UF, we’re getting ready to move from local SAN folders for people’s person file spaces to OneDrive. This will provide the exact same functionality (looks like a mapped network drive, secure for user files) plus a whole lot more: can access with any web connection (no need for VPN+remote desktop or UF machine), can share files/folders if wanted, supports added functions like tips and reference files in Outlook.

In speaking with folks about the planned move to OneDrive, we received interesting questions on the general nature of OneDrive and cloud storage. Also, we learned that many people think that cloud storage means unsecured files, and that everything has to be totally open for the world. 

When I heard the confusion on the what/how of OneDrive and cloud storage, I understood this meant that the desktop metaphor had broken and people were looking for a new mental model. That was awesome to learn! I did not expect that the metaphor had broken so badly as to have folks think that cloud storage meant no security and totally open files.  It does make sense given the lack of a metaphor and abusive data practices where users are forced/tricked into giving up control, and news stories on this again without a guiding metaphor. All very interesting to learn!

Now, I and the Library Technology team need to support folks in gaining sufficient understanding to be able to use and to be comfortable in using cloud storage, and we need to do this with the most minimal work and mental overhead required. I am not fully clear on how to do this, aside from scoping the transition of user files (U, lone user files) only to OneDrive as the first phase, and to then later deal with more complicated SAN files–complicated in terms of mental models and workflow patterns, as with departmental drives and shared project folders (shared across multiple users and departments). To support the upcoming work, we’re starting with an information session. The draft announcement on that is below. I am working on slides now and will be recording the session.

If other folks have suggestions for mental models or metaphors for the transition from desktop metaphor to cloud, please share!

DRAFT: Information Session: The Metaphor Doesn’t Work Anymore: Computer Storage Revolution and OneDrive (May 5, 2021, 2-3pm, will be recorded)
Laurie Taylor, Todd Digby, and Evan Wack

Overview: This Information Session explains the ongoing revolution in computer storage and focuses on OneDrive. OneDrive is just as secure as your current U drives.  Everyone will eventually move from U drives to OneDrive. OneDrive can function the same way you currently use your U drive. OneDrive also enables many more options. This session will start the conversation to support everyone in the process of the initial move to OneDrive and the broader options made possible by modern storage.

Computer storage has long relied on an extension of the desktop metaphor. In the old metaphor, your computer is your desktop, sitting in an office, with access to specific files that live in your desk or in shared office space, shared with predetermined other folks. This metaphor is not helpful in understanding cloud storage, where the overall operations are fundamentally different. Please note that OneDrive is secure, and cloud storage is based on security and controls.  In this session, we’ll review the revolution in computer storage, new ways of understanding storage, and practical specifics of OneDrive.

As technology professionals, we also acknowledge the timing. Star Wars reference: after May the fourth be with you, and on Revenge of the fifth.

– May the Force be with you! –

Before this session, please review:

We will review: