Wednesday, May 15, 2013

My atlas, in the cloud

Very, very soon - we'll all be fairly device agnostic - carrying our interfaces around with us - tablet or phone (or goggle) sized. There will be a dock in our cars, a dock at home on our desks (with a sensible keyboard). Perhaps the only other main tech in the house will be the ginormous television that we'll surf the web on, stream movies and TV, skype our families. What was once called our "computer" will no longer need to be bulky enough to hold all our "stuff", just powerful enough to reach it.

I imagine the cloud to be the great steamer trunk in the sky. For those who are new to this world, or haven't seen Titanic, steamer trunks were these intricate traveling wardrobes - much more than a suitcase - it was full of tiny drawers and hidden spaces and when it opened up, looked like a modern entertainment center. I am a compartment fanatic; I like everything in its place.

Unfortunately for control freaks like me, the new digital "imperative" is not a trend - it's the new reality. Computers no longer have CD drives because manufacturers say no one burns cds. Why bother when all your music is available remotely and you can time capsule all your important stuff into the wireless ether. I hear even USB drives will be an early 21st century relic soon. Why carry around info when you are supposed to access it everywhere and anywhere.

So, yes, I will be the last man who still backs up to CD and external hard drive. I will be smart (or paranoid) enough to eventually choose two cloud solutions - just in case one goes all karfluffle.

Or, when the solar flares hit, they all will.

I'm sure no one likes being dragged kicking and screaming into the future. I remember the uproar in my house when I was a kid and VCRs were suddenly no longer top-loading.

One of my biggest beefs with this whole process is how it's being advertised - just to the folks who want access to their movies while waiting in line at the movie theatre, or who want to listen to their tunes while waiting for a concert to begin. Some of us, the artists, the professional designers, need more hand-holding and soothing assurances.

But technology marketing has become american-idoled for awhile now - appealing to the most common consumer. Wordpress, for instance, a robust website builder, is still advertised (by its own company) as being a great tool for your blog. Flash player wants me to update so I can enjoy Facebook better (huh?). And cloud proponents are always going on about that collosal mp3 collection I have that I just need to beam to whenever I have a little more time at the grocer or need to share all those photos of grandma falling into the creek while in the dentist waiting room. 

First big thing: the whole world better have one hell of a broadband connection. At home, at work, at the gas station, at Disney World. And not just "free wifi" that barely spins up. For the cloud to really become the standard, you can't have people crying in the streets because their bars disappear on their smartphones. It'll be like snatching smack away from a junkie, but then standing in front of them dangling the pipe. Chaos will be the norm of the day.

Second huge concern: who gets your steamer trunk in the sky when you die? It becomes the great safe deposit box in the sky - sealed for eternity, but no one has the key.  Expect an entire business model to populate over this (I see a few seeds of this already, but nothing mainstream, no matter what Google (the monarchy, not the search tool) tells you).

Your head may be in the cloud, but not mine. I am a hardwired relic.