Cloudy Futures

I have several times indicated my skeptical take on “.” It boils down to this:

  • It’s nothing new. It’s using a big network instead of a small one.
  • Unless collaboration or off-site backup are involved, it doesn’t add value to my daily computer use.
  • Computers break. Storing data on the cloud means storing it on more computers that can break. Further, it conceivably involves companies that might be gone tomorrow, taking my data with them. (I know that Google’s not going to disappear any time soon, but Google’s not the only player.)

Last week, Charles Ledbetter, writing in the Guardian, considered another concern: that the untidy anarchic free nature of the internet is increasingly under attack.

Ledbetter sums up the dangers he sees in this way:

    . . . just as it is emerging, open cloud culture is threatened on all sides by vested interests of traditional media companies, hungry new monopolists and governments that are intent of reasserting control over the unruly web. The “netizen” beneficiaries of open cloud culture are far less well funded and organised than its opponents.

and proposes an Open Cloud Declaration to address the following points (follow the link to the article for a full explanation of each point):

  • The first main threat to open cloud culture is homogeneity: we do not want a digital sky dominated by standardised clouds branded Google and Apple.
  • The second threat to open cloud culture is corporate control.
  • The third threat is the rearguard action being fought by industrial-era media companies to prevent clouds forming.
  • The fourth threat comes from attempted government control of the cloud on grounds of state security, public decency or economic necessity. These threats do not just come from authoritarian regimes in the east, but also from western liberal democracies . . . .
  • The fifth, and most significant challenge to a truly open, public web is inequality.

Note that I am not against “cloud computing” per se.

Networks have enabled a speed of communication and a potential for teamwork that did not exist when I was a young ‘un. My posting here is an example: I’ve never met Jeffrey, but he’s kind enough to let me sound off here in his space; before computer networking, such collaborations–in some cases, world-wide collaborations–would have been impossible.

Nor am I against corporations or other entities having access to some of my data, to the extent I make it available to them. I willingly place some data in the hands of corporations or other business or government entities.

I buy Dells; Dell necessarily has my shipping information and computer specs, at least the specs of the computers before I got my hands on them. I use Facebook; I necessarily agree to Facebook’s terms of service ). I use Monster dot com; I necessarily give Monster my resume and contact information. My cable company, from whom I get a web connection, knows who I am.

In these cases, I make a conscious trade for services I can’t get from my local cloud and removable storage devices. But I can darn well store my personal data quite happily on my local cloud and removable storage devices. There really is no reason to store it out there somewhere just because I can.

I’m against hype.

And there is another consideration, at least for American citizens, which you can read about here. (Link via the Network Security podcast.)

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