An Academic Debate on File Sharing

Looking back to about 10 years ago, I would have been prepping for high school varsity debate tournaments. We’d spend hours yahoo’ing every possible angle at the local library.

“What’s a library,” you might ask? It’s where children are told to wait for their parents after school. If you’re on the debate team, you go there willingly. I digress…While preparing for tournaments, we would gather evidence for months in advance. When tournament season rolled around, we’d cart around huge buckets of briefs, enough to reconstruct the tree it once was.

An Academic Debate on File Sharing - Egnyte Blog

During these tournaments, we’d execute searches by literally sifting through these buckets, organized by keywords and ascending date order. When our opponents cited some novel evidence from their bucket, we would ask for proof, and they would attempt file sharing by walking over and delivering their files by hand. Then, for the next five minutes, we would speed read through pages and pages of files, theirs and ours, as this arcane mental chess match marched on. Sticky notes annotated our briefs with quick slogans like “Mandate killer!” Another sticky note with the word “Schmuck” might be on one of the opponent’s shared briefs indicating a lack of credibility.

Now that I am managing our mobile products at Egnyte, I am suddenly having urges to see how high school debate teams do things now. Do they bring tablets filled with briefs stored in the cloud? Do they search files via autocomplete and conveniently organize content through sorting algorithms? When they’re asked to share evidence, do they share them with a file link by IM?

The world is changing very quickly for file sharing. If I had the modern internet paired with a cloud storage solution back then, research would have been so much easier.

I can just imagine the team advisor creating a user hierarchy: JV debaters will have strict editor rights so that they can generate and upload content for the entire team. Varsity can also generate new content, BUT since they are more seasoned, they have full rights, which allows them to easily edit, delete, and reorganize content. During the tournaments, viewer permissions can be given to judges so that they are always on the same page as the debaters without disruptive privileges. The debaters can annotate directly on the files to indicate efficacy or write notes in real time. When the opponents need specific documents, the team can easily share the file with explicit expirations. No one wants their files to grow feet and run off into their enemy’s stockpile.

The competitive advantage a team can gain from a well-versed cloud solution is endless, in business and academics alike. The luxury is in the time spent toward content creation, not filing and searching through existing ones. Leaders who do not educate and provide cutting-edge utilities for their teams are antiquating themselves and are effectively no leaders at all. Mobile technology may not help with the fear of public speaking, but it will surely solve almost everything else.

*Steve Chen is the Mobile Product Manager at Egnyte. From running his indi-software company to packing parachutes at local airports, he’s been exercising his particular strain of unhealthy obsessive ADHD for as long as he can remember.

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Steve Chen

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