Who would have thought that the novel, Lord of the Flies, by William Golding, an English literature staple for English schoolchildren, was not only the idea behind the popular TV series “Lost”, but also provides important parallels to the story currently unfolding of enterprise file sharing gone wild. In the Lord of the Flies the attempts by the group of British schoolboys to govern themselves when stranded on a deserted island is in some ways akin to how business users are today attempting to govern their file sharing when deserted by IT.
The major themes of the Lord of the Flies include an exploration of the conflicts of civilization and the loss of innocence, both of which seem applicable to the current conflict of business user vs. IT in the world of enterprise file sharing. While the novel, and even the TV show, may be rather more graphic on the conflict of living by rules vs. savagery, valuing the good of the group vs. individual gratification and exploring law vs. anarchy perhaps some good lessons can be learned? Just how would Ralph, Jack, Simon and Piggy, the main characters in Lord of the Flies have handled file sharing?
Ralph, the elected leader of the group, the representative of order, civilization and productivity, thinks about how the boys should organize themselves and get to work to maximize their chance of survival and rescue. Is Ralph perhaps the CIO figure? Would Ralph, the CIO, be taking charge, implementing an enterprise file sharing solution so business users can not only survive and can get their jobs done, but also stay out of trouble.
Jack, the opposite of Ralph, the character representing savagery not civilization, demonstrates how he can use his savagery to control the boys who increasingly abandon civilization to follow him. Hmmmm… not sure about this Jack character, although we have all seen business users do things they shouldn’t.
Simon, is the character who just does what is right not because of Ralph or Jack’s influence, but just because he knows it is the right thing to do. This would be the business user every organization would like to have.
Piggy, the inventor and intellectual, uses his inventiveness to benefit the group. It is Piggy who initially finds a conch and blows it to bring all the boys together on the island and Piggy who makes a sundial so they can tell the time. Piggy, in the world of enterprise file sharing would have early on blown the conch he discovered, to alert IT and Security teams that they needed to work together to give business users a way to share files securely. Piggy would also be the one to design and implement the system.
So how does this story end? In Lord of the Flies, the boys are eventually rescued and returned to civilization, but not without some casualties. The adult who steps onto the island does remark that he would have expected better from British boys!
How does the story end in enterprise file sharing? I’m betting on the Ralphs and Simons of the world to give this story a happy ending.