Sunday, 15 April 2012

The Cloud forecast

A cloud
The latest buzz word in today's tech world is "the cloud". The hype surrounding this (yet another) vaguely named technology is never ending. If we can learn anything from the past, the cloud alongside names such as Google and Macintosh (sure these sound familiar now but remember when you first heard them?) is bound to become a winner.

This kind of weather phenomenon is becoming more ubiquitous in our lives, without us even realising it. But what is it? What exactly does it do?! Well, in short, the cloud is made up of a (large) bunch of interconnected web servers scattered all over the world, making up one huge machine with humongous processing power and unthinkable data storage capacity.

Businesses are all eager to jump onto the cloud. This makes sense, specially for small businesses, as never before has such a large and easily scalable computer resource been available at such (relatively) low price. But what are the advantages for the individual folk like you and me? What's the fuss all about, what do we get from the cloud?

The cloud aims to store all our data, so that we can access it from any internet enabled device from anywhere in the world. For example, why carry your music with you when you can pay a monthly subscription to access millions of tracks from from your computer at home and your phone on the go?

The cloud wants to provide you with all the applications you require. Be it an office suite or any other software, instead of buying or downloading it for free and installing it on your computer, you'll be paying the cloud for a monthly/yearly subscription to use it. I already hear you saying - "Great! This is so convenient. Where do I sign up?"

Not so fast, lets look at the bigger picture. With every service this technology provides we see a transfer of ownership from the user to the hazy mist of the cloud. Be it pictures, videos or documents who knows what prying eyes will scan our private digital creations? Privacy is starting to become a thing of the past. Someone, somewhere will have the power to run detailed diagnostics, statistics and trends on our habits, locations, likes/dislikes, connections, opinions, etc. - not only on an individual level but also on whole populations. Even if you think you have nothing to hide, based on history, would you not agree that the larger a power is, the bigger the risk of corruption and abuse of such power?

For long it has been said that information is power. I wonder what kind of power cloud we are creating by allowing such an unprecedented centralization of information in the hands of a few large corporations. Hopefully not a black cloud that comes back thundering down on us.

Another kind of cloud

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