We all know the story of the Wizard of Oz — a little dog in Utah gets swept up in a nasty flood and sent to a magical land far, far away, barking from adventure to adventure with a quirky yet fun-loving feline and a talking pig and a goldfish whose fishbowl can not only survive all the craziness, but never needs its water refilled, until finally the group reaches Oz, a mysterious castle made of sand and toilet paper where a large Buddha projection controls all those who inhabit it, except our travelers discover the Buddha is no Buddha at all, but a crazy, washed up computer programmer making outrageous statements for the sake of being heard and attempting to remain relevant.
Now, for the record, one of my favorite parts of being an Apple nerd is the cultish nature of the company’s rise to prominence. Two dudes starting what would end up being the most valuable company in the world in a garage is a legend straight from fiction. So to is one of the most legendary characters in the tech world (a guy that is, amazingly, real) — Steve Wozniak.
That legend, though, is severely in jeopardy. As a cult icon, the Woz has been a whirlwind of quotable goodness for tech journalists lately. But, his latest comments are just too much for me to handle. When asked about the rise of cloud computing and data storage Woz gave us this little gem, “I think it’s going to be horrendous.”
I have two major problems with this situation. First, why is the Woz still a relevant source for the tech world? In the fast-paced, what-have-you-done-for-me-latetly, give-it-to-me-yesterday world of technology, Woz hasn’t really been involved with anything important in years. Lots of years. And yet, every couple of weeks some journalist gets him to comment about how he prefers Android, how he didn’t agree with Steve Jobs’ decisions about Apple, or now, how the cloud will be a train wreck.
Second. I can’t even think of my second point. The first one is too baffling.
Except damn, wouldn’t you know it, some idiot at AppleCare gives up a tech journalists iCloud account control to a hacker and the journalist it happens to splashes it all over the Internet. Now, Woz looks like a genius again. The pundits, no doubt, will be loving this ammunition to toss at fanboys. “Even Woz, the Apple guy, said iCloud sucks.”
Please. First of all, the iCloud breach situation is a human error — a regrettable one, but human nonetheless. Social engineering is still the greatest hack of all time (that means you convince someone to give up information that is secret or damaging without having to actually do any sort of code manipulation). And even though the result was a cloud-related snafu, it was a targeted, isolated incident.
It’s the equivalent of saying people should stop opening checking accounts because a bank that just opened and had one customer was robbed.
Woz wants control of his data, hence his distrust of the cloud. But, as the bank analogy continues, you can’t just keep your money in your mattress and expect to do anything important with it. Investing in the bank’s services allows you to do more with what you have. The same is true of your data in the cloud — the more you store, the more you can do.
I still think Woz will retain his tech icon status, but much like the Buddha projection in the sand castle of Oz, he’s just a fat guy trying to be in control and ultimately is just too out of touch. Perhaps one day soon a puppy will come to his rescue and bring him back to reality.