Life in the cloud (computing) is not a radical shift, its more like a gentle transition.

I was recently asked by  M Roberston:

Don’t you think the PC to cloud transition is the type of radical change we witness rarely?

Honestly, I waffle on this one (go figure).  The cloudy movement seems like something both seemingly radical yet actually inevitable in that some dimensions of the transition are new, and other dimensions quite honestly are very deja vu (in that they already happened).

Here is how I think about it:  When everything but the screen and keyboard is located elsewhere, that is what I consider complete cloud coverage.  Everything else is a partly cloudy experience.  And in certain domains (e.g., email, money) we have been partly cloudy for quite some time.  Think about it… we store our money so far away that the physical dollar bills don’t necessarily exist.

As such, we are simply experiencing an expansion of the universe of file types, stuff and services that are capable of being hosted and that we are willing to host elsewhere.  That radical change is a fuzzy line——some parts of our bodies already crossed over, while other parts are holding back.

Will this shift affect some companies in radical ways?  Yes.  Is the shift itself radical… Probably not.  The shift to partly cloudy is just what working and living on a network naturally implies;  This shift is not a prediction, it just makes sense.

As far as the waffling:

On one hand, the general user moving what files (pictures, music, docs) they possess from a local machine to some foreign machine (or set thereof) on a network is a change—mostly behaviorally.  These folks grew up with desktops that became laptops (or laptops that become phones), yet without a ubiquitous internet connection.  As such, storing things “somewhere out there” seems radical.

On the other hand, storing things on networks seems rather instinctual to anyone for whom network access has been or has become a foregone conclusion.  Storing things “somewhere out there” seems like old hat—it is what we have been doing for some time.

Frankly, where computing started for most corporate and academic types involved working in somewhat more localized cloud formations—dumb terminals network connected to big mainframes upon which the computing and storing took place.  The thing at your desk was (for the most part) just a screen and a keyboard.  There was no hard drive within arm’s reach.

What do you think?


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