Share and Share Alike

Mark Thurman
23 August 2020
Old data cards

Amongst the list of benefits for Cloud Computing solutions you will always find 'Collaboration'. People have been sharing and collaborating for years but it's rarely been efficient. Here is a quick , and not particularly serious run down of collaboration techniques and technologies throughout history.

And no, its not meant to be a concise guide...I have deliberately omitted telepathy, smoke-signals and those rare times when we hear voices in our heads.

Monkeys chatting

10,000 BC to 6,000 BC

Verbal communication only.

To share you had to be face to face with somebody. Whilst poor spelling was not a problem it was very hard to disseminate information. Verbal copy and paste is a poor tool...


6,000 BC to 1435 AD

Clay tablets, papyrus and parchment.

Something written down is at least semi-permanent, (Something to remember at the tattoo artists) and therefore can be preserved and shared in the knowledge that it will remain uncorrupted except by natural causes and time.

Gutenberg Press

1436 AD to 1971 AD

Earliest books

The arrival of the printing press, the invention of Johannes Gutenberg, revolutionises information sharing firstly in Europe and then the rest of the world.

For the first time an idea could be committed to paper and replicated quickly and accurately. (Except for the 'Wicked' bible perhaps) The importance of this change cannot be underestimated, fuelling the circulation of ideas and concepts in a way that helped shape the modern world. The press probably ranks alongside the wheel as one of the most important inventions in the history of man.

Gutenberg Press

1971 AD

8 inch floppy disk

The first 8 inch floppy disks allowed us to share information in a digital format, separate from the processing computer for the first time. Hugely popular, they were superseded by a variety of formats until the 3.5 inch floppy ruled the roost and is still seen today. Capacity = 1.44Mb


Modern Era

Network/Portable Storage

Network Sharing - Sharing files across a network in the way we understand today allows large files to be shared from a directory. Pro: Centralised control. Con: Access to the file promotes new copies being made elsewhere.

USB file Storage - A wide range of devices supported by the USB format allow for the portability of data  in the Terra-byte range and currently in the hundreds of Gigabytes via a tiny USB memory stick. Pros: Portability, based on a standard. Cons: Lack of security, easy to lose.

Email - These days perhaps one of the most common ways to share is by email.
Pros: Easy and fast. Cons: New copies are made. If revisions are made to these copies, they have to be integrated into a master file manually.


2010 - ???

Cloud Storage

Cloud computing however allows you to create a document once and share it in such a way as to allow some users the right to view it, others to view and edit and perhaps even someone else to take ownership and change the access rights themselves.

Crucially the sharing doesn't involve making more copies. Rather than attach a file to several email addresses or user accounts, the method is to attach several emails/accounts to the cloud based file and specify their access.

Pro: Security, Accessibility, Always up to date, reduction in storage medium used, lower costs.

Cons: Offline access means very little downside!

Alarmed hedgehog


Neural Copy & Paste

Recently, Elon Musk, via his lesser known company Neuralink demonstrated an early prototype for his neural link technology designed to allow humans and computers to interface and share information.

Eventually (and almost certainly in a bleak dystopian future the transfer of knowledge from brain to brain, cortex to cortex will be a reality. CTRL + C may just be a subtle sub conscious mannerism by then. So get ready for comedy results because as sure as the sky is blue some fool will paste his early sexual experiences into the long term memory of a squirrel and where will we be then?

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