What Was Old Is New Again

Over at Scientific Blogging, Barry Leiba comments on . The story is here. He says, in part,

    What I think is interesting about the emphasis on cloud computing, and putting your data and services “in the cloud”, is that we’ve come close to completing a circle. In the 1970s, we used “dumb terminals” that talked to “mainframe computers”, behemoths that sat in large data centers.

Rant follows.

As I’ve said here before, I’m not enamored of the “cloud.” I think it can be useful for collaborative efforts for folks who don’t share the same network, for example by using Google Docs. And, if they already share the same network, they already have their own cloud.

I think that otherwise the concept of “cloud computing” for the home computer user is, frankly, somewhat overblown and that a lot of the gaga-ness about “cloud computing” (which, I near as I can tell, pretty much means storing and manipulating your stuff up there somewhere rather than down here somewhere) stems from the psychology of a certain subset of computer users who figure that, if you can do it on the internet, you therefore must do it on the internet.

These are the same type of persons who, during the tech bubble in the 1990s, believed that enough persons would pay extra to order groceries via the internet and have them delivered that they floated an IPO for a company to do just that.

The public didn’t buy it. The company was never heard from again (I remember the news story well, but cannot dig up a link–it was pre-Google).

The rest of the gaga-ness is, as far as I can tell, on the part of outfits who want to us to use their services.

Barring some payback for me (such as collaboration, as I mentioned before), I don’t see any benefits to me of giving over the care of my data to someone else. What I see are benefits to the online companies that want me to invest in their clouds.

Besides, I’ve got these computers that can do all this neat stuff. Why should I turn them into dumb terminals?

I guess the next big steps forward will be time-sharing and the rebirth of Genie.

Full disclosure: I know persons who do take advantage of delivery service from local grocery stores. Almost all of them are persons who can no longer drive for reasons of health or old age; most of them place their orders with that new high-tech device, the telephone.

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