Cloud File System Fatigue

Negotiating our online and collaborative document platforms.

June 15, 2016

This week I heard a smart/high-energy colleague remark that she has “cloud file system fatigue”.   Everyone in the room nodded their heads knowingly.

What platforms do you and your colleagues use to share documents and collaborate on files?

Some places in my world where shared files are likely to end up include:

  • Google Drive
  • Box
  • DropBox
  • SharePoint
  • OneDrive
  • A Shared Network Drive

What am I missing?

The world of cloud file systems and collaborative web documents has changed how we work.  Our documents no longer live (only) on our hard drives.  We are less likely to send attachments around by e-mail for group writing and collaboration.

These are all wonderful changes.

The downside - at least in my life - is that I’m never quite sure about which platform I should be using.

Moreover, my preferences (I tend to like Google Drive and Google Docs), are not always the preferences of my colleagues.

Many of the folks that I work with are most comfortable creating their docs in MS Office (Word, Excel, PowerPoint).  They see Google Docs as weak substitutes for the “real applications” - and are therefore more likely to use cloud based file systems that are designed to easily (or even natively) work with MS Office.

The result is every collaborative project includes a negotiation of where the files will live.  How will the group collaborate on the documents.  In matrix organizations, organizations where projects run across divisions and reporting structures are less relevant for the work, the power to decide on what tools will be used not clear.

Do you have cloud file system (collaboration) fatigue?

How to solve this challenge is not obvious.  Having Central Computing (or someone else) mandate a cloud file system would go against the culture of most colleges and universities.

The erosion (and then obliteration) of the line between work and non-work also makes it difficult to have a single cloud based file / collaboration system.  So much of our digital life is in the cloud that we develop digital preferences and habits that may not match those of our colleagues or our schools.

What is your cloud based file system and cloud based document collaboration platform of choice?

Does your choices match the “official” online system provided by your school?

How do you negotiate the platform in which your group projects will get done?



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