GenXer’s Rant for Independence

The Manhattan ProjectI am part of Generation X. My parents were born in 1946, the quintessential Baby Boomers. All my life I have heard about the Greatest Generation and the Baby Boomers and all they accomplished. Together they built the society we live in today.

And what a society it is.

My early years were defined by the Cold War. I was never sheltered from the truth. I knew that if there was a war that my proximity to a navy base was a blessing. It would be over quick. The threat of nuclear war was just background noise, a fact of life, a dark cloud that you learned to ignore.

What was scary to us was the use of resources. The country was going deeper and deeper into debt. Everyone knew that this meant economic hardships down the road. Forget counting on the government to help you in retirement like it would help our parents and grandparents. Social Security would be empty.

The oil crisis of the ‘70s made everyone realize that oil was not going to last forever. Three Mile Island and Chernobyl made us realize the risk of our nuclear future. As the environment was impacted, we worried about acid rain, polluted oceans, the shrinking Amazon, and growing Sahara. Debate global warming all you want, but do we need to keep putting poisons into the air every day?

When Columbia exploded, our hopes and dreams of escaping into space died.

This was the world that I entered as an adult. Those are the realities that forged Generation X. The world was a mess, getting worse, and it was going to be Generation X that would have to pick things up.

Eddie Vedder of Pearl JamBut we didn’t want the job yet.

Grunge was big because it showed how we viewed life. It was about surviving, day by day. It was angst. It was our release from the feeling of futility. There are songs out there that capture Generation X, but Grunge was Generation X.

As we moved about the world, we saw the previous generation as hypocrites. They talked a good talk about fixing the world, but that was just words from their youth that they knew but no longer understood. When you get down to it, everything was about them, not about the future.

When Generation X entered the world, we tried to fix what we saw but we were suppressed. Change was feared and we just added one more frustration about the future to our lives. We jumped around to find our niche, to find a place to make a difference, but those places were rare. We eventually adapted to the world and tried to take charge, playing the game by their rules. Still, all we ever heard about was the Baby Boomers and what would happen when they began to retire.

Troy in Reality BitesHello? Generation X here. Did you realize we could hear what you were saying?

Then came the millennials. They were going to change everything. They were Internet natives and knew how to use technology to fix problems.

Natives? Really?

I was online before most millennials were potty trained. Generation X explored the Internet. We blazed the paths that the millennials then followed. Where is the respect?

Once again, Generation X is being over shadowed by another generation. The news is talking about how the millennials are going to change the world. People should listen to the millennials as they have fresh ideas.

Fresh ideas? Are you kidding me. A “leading” millenial recently said,

Yes, most things have been tried before. Just not with today’s technology.

UberI’m sorry. Are you trying to repeat past mistakes? Are you that unoriginal? Technology isn’t going to change the result unless you want to make bigger wars.

We need to use today’s technology to try new things to solve the old problems. Millennials are trying to build a better hammer. Generation X has the experience to know that what you really need is to change EVERYTHING. Not just one aspect or another. Old and new technology need to be combined to show the world how to fix the big picture.

We don’t need technology to make it easier to get a ride, find a place to stay, or locate the perfect mojito. We need to make the world a better place, not an easier one.

Everyone thinks millennials have all the answers. Surviving college with a smartphone in your hand doesn’t bestow wisdom.

Millennials have a slogan, You Only Live Once (YOLO). They use it as a reason to do crazy things. I hear YOLO and I think,

You are right, let’s not screw up the world for our kids the way it was screwed up for us.

Generation X is not a placeholder. We don’t exist to serve merely as a bridge between one generation and the next. We may not have a war to our name, but we are battle scarred. We are not that disaffected generation from Reality Bites anymore.

It is time people listened. It is time stop chasing the shiny toys that the millennials are bringing to the table. It is time to sit down, look at the problems we are facing, and fix them.

Generation X matters. It is time you listened.

A Release Note For Legacy Systems

I’ve often said that older systems haven’t innovated as much as they should have the past decade. Sure, the systems change and evolve, but have they really improved? Here is a quick look at what just about every release made in the last 10 years could have looked like.

imageAnnouncing SuperOld CMS 8.5!

We are proud to announce our newest version of SuperOld CMS. Right off, you will be impressed with the bigger version number which means more goodness for you.

For this release we listened to you and heard your concerns. In version 7.5 we placed our new critical features in a menu that our customers said was too hard to find. Now that you have had three years to learn exactly how to use those features, we have moved them to a more intuitive location. You won’t believe how easy it is to use now once you break three years of ingrained behavior!

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Content Management Step One, Capture that Information

A Cinnabon treatThere were a lot of disagreements on my view that Box or Dropbox will be a leader in Content Management in five years. Some were willing to concede that in the Small and Medium Business (SMB) market it might be the case but not in larger Enterprises. To anyone relying on that argument, I suggest refreshing yourself on how disruptive technologies attack a market.

I want to take a moment to explain why one of them WILL be a player in the market. It all comes down to one simple point, they capture content.

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Box v Dropbox v Everyone

While I was at Alfresco, I made a point of ignoring the competition. I always believe that if you can’t win without saying something negative, don’t bother. On the flip side, I didn’t want to draw extra attention to the competition.

Don’t have any of those issues now.

Even though I was quiet, new things still happened. Recently both Box and Dropbox have been making some announcements. While I am not going to go into the details, plenty of people have done that already, I’m going to talk about why any of it matters.

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My Day on the Potomac

Picture of the PotomacYesterday I shared about my departure from Alfresco. As soon as I hit publish, I hit the trail. I drove over to Maryland to Great Falls with the intent of tackling the Billy Goat Trail. The trail isn’t hard, just something that lends itself to deciding it is time for a beer.

The trail is in three sections, A, B, and C. I didn’t name them, so don’t blame me. Each section begins and ends on the C&O Canal, giving you a couple chances to call it a day early.

Let me describe them for you.

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Saying Goodbye to Alfresco

Red Swingline StaplerAt this point, you don’t really need to read much more, but since you are likely the type to want to know more, I shall share. Alfresco and I have parted ways. I greatly enjoyed my time at Alfresco, I learned quite a bit, and I met some amazing people. Alfresco was my first return to a major vendor since the 90s and I enjoyed it. They have a solid vision, good people, and amazing technology. I will be watching their growth with interest.

As for me, I am free to fully explore my options, but first…a vacation.

Still working on the details of what that entails, but I am sure that one or two oceans will be involved. I haven’t had a real vacation in years as I’ve shifted from one job to another with no break twice now.

This time, I’m going to take some time to relax.

Of course, I cannot vacation forever. Even during my vacation, I will likely be sending posts up into the void and answering email. The joy will be doing it on my schedule.

As for afterwards? Some people have already asked me and I thought I would share where my brain is leading…

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Email, the Godzilla of the Enterprise

GodzillaI attended the Greater Washington, DC ARMA Spring Seminar recently and was able to participate in a lot of discussions around governing email. Even after all these years, many organizations don’t have email under control.

As I was sharing details from this event on twitter, I received an interesting response from Gina Minks over at Dell.

@piewords I thought email was dead?

I laughed a little at this response. We have all heard many times about email’s demise over the years. I realized…

When you get down to it, email isn’t going anywhere.

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