Thursday, January 05, 2012

Knapsack 1-12

Notes From My Knapsack 1-12-12

Jeff Gill


2012, the year of the cloud



If you are one of the benighted view worrying about the Mayan prediction of the end of the world this coming Dec. 21st, I really can't help you, other than to suggest that it's the end of something the same way 2000 was an end…and a beginning.


2012 is looking to be a significant phase in the movement to what's generally referred to as "the cloud."


"The cloud" is the location, in virtual terms, where our data and info and personal materials all are starting to reside on the internet. Where is the cloud? If you must be so tiresomely concrete and particular, I guess it would be in a server farm (a building full of server/hard-drives/technology) that could be in Redmond, Washington, might be in Shanghai, China, and could even be in unexotic places like Dusseldorf, Germany or Poughkeepsie, New York.


One of the characteristics of the cloud, and a value of it, is that it is "backed up," so isn't just in Shanghai, but is simultaneously in Washington State and Dusseldorf, so if it suddenly melts down in one place, it can be recovered from another physical location, as the cloud drifts calmly on.


After decades of carrying around a bricklike daily/monthly/yearly planner, my calendar through 2012 is in the cloud, accessible in a smaller device I carry with me, but updateable on any computer I happen to land at through the day, with a user name and a password, and another password, and I can tweak or update my calendar for next May. It being in "the cloud," when I check it at home on my own computer, the update from the morning shows up right there, bouncing by way of Dusseldorf through my home router into the wifi and there as the Lovely Wife and I compare calendars. She pays more and more, now most of our household bills online, and checks our debit card and account balance online, where paychecks (her one, my four or five) are more and more going directly into that same encompassing cloud.


This all seems odd, until I recall that, over the last decade, I've gone from the last ribbon on my Smith-Corona to where my columns for the Sentinel & Advocate rarely ever "exist" anywhere until they come out of the business end of a printing press. The initial ideas go onto Evernote, the columns are typed in Word and sent by e-mail, edited in Quark, and I save my own copies on a hard drive and my own little corner of the cloud. There is literally no physical writing or typing until the printing…and more and more, people are wanting to skip that step and go to digital subscriptions, seeing the content online.


Will 2012 be the year that becomes the majority desire?


Many of my holiday books, magazines, and music, are in "the cloud." I can have them on my device, but I can delete them for space and go back to the cloud later to access them again. Are they mine? Well, yes, but…and the Lovely Wife notes serenely that, for all the potential downsides, they aren't taking up space in our house, or using up resources to make physical forms which then are warehoused until use.


Is "the cloud" a good thing? There's room for debate, especially if you're selling those physical forms, but the one solid reality of 2012 looks to be that we're moving towards the cloud.


Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; tell him about your experience of "the cloud" at, or follow Knapsack @Twitter.

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