Thursday, January 5, 2012

Cloud for “Everyman”

[This article was submitted for future publication on]

There is a lot of discussion here about cloud for business, but what about cloud for Everyman – the average Joe – the man on the street? How will cloud computing change life for the average person? In short, cloud has already changed things significantly, and will continue to have an impact on our lives for years to come.

A cloud of sound

There are numerous applications now available for people to create, record, upload, and share music with the world. As a musician, I think this is awesome and amazing. I can share my favorite songs with my friends on social networks, and I can listen to their favorite songs – all for the price of “a song” (essentially, for free). I wonder how this has affected the music business, and how it will impact the future of the music industry? I imagine that it has provided more opportunities to musicians, and made music more accessible to a wider audience. It has been a boon to the independent artists and small record labels, but have the big record companies suffered as a result? I grew up in an era of mega-rock stars and arena tours, but those days are gone. They will be the stuff of legends that I will tell my grand kids.

A cloud of words

If you want to publish your own book or magazine, there are many options available to you, thanks to cloud. Actually, cloud has made the term self-publishing essentially meaningless. All of the publishing tools that you could possibly need are now provided on the cloud – everything from editing and production, to distribution and finding an audience. It has taken self-publishing quite a number of steps further than merely making a book. The distinction is more a matter of “corporate” publishing (the big companies) versus independent presses and smaller co-ops. For the rest of us, this means that if we have Internet connection, we can find something to read about anything. ANYTHING. The history of the Belgian lute? How to make beef jerky? Card games of the middle ages? It's all there.

A cloud of images

...and most of those images are of cats. Seriously. Do you know anyone with a cat who hasn't posted a photo of it on the Internet? But it's not just about the Internet. The Internet gives us the network to share our books and music and images with the world, but cloud gives us the tools and services that make it possible for us to create those books, songs, and images. We are not merely uploading our photos, we are editing them, collecting them into albums, turning them into videos with sound, and so on.

We will soon rely on cloud for all kinds of services. When we go shopping, the cloud will send coupons for the products we want to buy directly to our smart phone or mobile device. When we seek medical care, our diagnosis will come from the cloud. When we are traveling in a foreign country, cloud will translate for us.

How has cloud changed your world?