Starting a couple years ago I started seeing ads and commercials referring to “The Cloud.” I never paid much attention, but from what I gathered, the cloud or cloud computing had something to do with making information accessible on multiple devices. It turns out this only part of it.
The cloud, as defined by Eric Schnell at the Ohio State University, ” is when data and software applications reside on and are drawn from the network rather than locally on any one workstation or a particular device.” Things like email, GoogleDocs, Facebook, and pretty much all other social media are all based in this concept of cloud computing.
That being said, some of the benefits to the cloud are obvious to point out. For communication, collaboration and as a source of information the possibilities of the cloud seem limitless. However, considering the pervasiveness of cloud computing in everyday life, its shocking how little we generally think about potential downfalls.
Issues of privacy are common, as anyone who uses Facebook has probably wondered how the advertisements seem to suit our particular interests (or even reflect our recent conversations) a little too well. And then one has to wonder about issues of information ownership and copyright. Search for images of yourself in Google and you may be surprised to realize than anyone can obtain, copy, modify and reproduce your image without your consent.
For those whose interests are environmental sustainability, the energy consumption considerations are certainly open for debate. So, while cloud computing seems like an affordable alternative at the individual level, issues of cost at other levels can raise concerns.
All this is not to say I am against the cloud. As my laptop has begun making strange noises lately I have been grateful for and happy to save all my documents in my GoogleDrive and often have not bothered to save or print pictures from special events because I know they are just a click away no matter where I am. I just think we should try to make ourselves more aware of the complicated implications of such wide spread popular acceptance, and see the good with the bad.
If I have however, made you wary, you can always build your own cloud to keep your documents in your hands alone.
What do you think?