I haven’t got any emails in my Outlook inbox. I have about 10 files in My Documents. My iTunes is a lonely, desolate place, used sparingly to upload music to my iPhone. I haven’t owned a boxed PC game in years, and I certainly don’t own any notepaper.
This is thanks to being introduced to the Cloud – a term on a very superficial level that refers to things being kept on external servers and streamed via the internet. Its concept and execution are much more complex, and as a result better explained by Cloud Expert James Urquhart at his blog The Wisdom of Clouds (hosted by CNET).
Basically, it means that I am not effectively shackled to one computer.
If I – hypothetically – knock a glass of 40-year-old Banff scotch over my laptop, I can set it aside to dry and continue on another computer. I can keep writing thanks to WordPress saving my progress on a server hundreds of miles away. I don’t even need to break my place in my David Bowie marathon, as Grooveshark restores my 100-song playlist, and picks up where I left off. I keep chatting to my colleagues via Digsby – which, of course, saves all my login details and contacts in just the order I like.
And, when I’m done writing the post, I save the draft, and know I’ll be able to check on it in a few hours – with no need to make sure I’ve saved it in the right format, put it on the USB key, or really done anything, actually.
Sadly, for now it’s far from becoming the core of our computing world – in fact, there’re still major players like Oracle who still don’t quite get it – and there’s a degree of worry over its security, some of which is stuck on the worry of committing all of your files to a server you don’t own and cannot kick when it stops working.
That isn’t to say you shouldn’t consider taking advantage of it. As said, Google Docs can compliment, if not totally replace the Office suite. Dropbox – as you imagine – creates a box of folders that lives online that you can constantly link to and access anywhere in the world. Evernote is the Mossberg-approved notebook that can save just about any file to, again, a store in the cloud. Flickr is one of the oldest and most reliable image-hosts – so much that I’ve been a Pro member for several years, keeping thousands of personal, professional photographs safe. Unlike the five or six dead hard drives I’ve had since then.
And, of course, GamersGate keeps every game I own in one place. But I’m not meant to play those at work.
So, as you can see, Cloud Computing is very much here to stay, and is rapidly approaching the point when I can’t work do any work because my computer isn’t working properly.