22nd July 2009

What is: the cloud

Guides | Thoughts By 8 years ago

In the early days of photography the great Alfred Stieglitz was accused of always being in the right place at the right time. His photographs were great not because of his talent and eye for detail, but for where he was. In protest, Stieglitz then proceeded to take photos of clouds for the rest of his career – because they were the same to everyone. His photos remained breathtakingly beautiful.

Today the cloud is simultaneously about both of these things – being in the right place, and being accessible.

The Cloud is the name for a network of applications available via the internet, designed to act in place of traditional location or hard drive tethered applications. The cloud therefore acts as a distributed network of applications and processes that are always available to you, no matter where you are, provided you have an internet connection.

This is not just webmail, a calendar somewhere or online banking, but being conceptualised as eventually full online inter-operability. The ability to carry out whatever you want, no matter where you are, or what system you are running.

While still in the early days of actual implantation, the cloud has long been conceptuatlised by the likes of Google and Microsoft. Currently a single google account can act across several platforms to link together email, photo and file sharing, online word processing and so forth. However, as a recent hack of Twitter highlighted, a simple guessed password can currently bring down the whole system.

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