17 October 2011

"Cloud" (?) computing

Today's Guardian newspaper carries a supplement on the implications of cloud computing for business and government and it got me thinking about the use of the term 'cloud'.  This follows a question after my keynote at ASIST last week relating to the permanence of material on the Web.

The problem with the term 'cloud' is that it has ethereal connotations, something in space, with very little seeming materiality to it and, therefore, perhaps immune to the problems that affect the material world.  Whereas, in fact, the 'cloud' is simply a server network, very material and prey to the usual problems of material things: flood, fire, earthquake, etc.  The fact that we save things to Google Docs, or Apple's iCloud, or Amazon's cloud, does not protect them from such things, nor from potential file corruption.  I suppose that "shared server space" does not have the same appeal as "cloud", but we need to remember that that is the cloud.