The use of the term ‘cloud’ as the name for the new computing services being offered by the so-called ‘Cloud Capitalists’, ie Apple, Amazon and Google, is an interesting one. Presumably the idea is of a never-ending cycle in which my files ‘evaporate’ up into the cloud and fall back down to my desktop as a shower of digital data?
I am indebted to a recent article by Charles Leadbetter, author of ‘Cloud Culture’, for exploring the analogy further. He refers to the first classification of cloud types, created in 1803, in which some 52 varieties of cirrus, stratus and cumulus clouds were identified, each with different qualities and characteristics. It is this variety and diversity that makes our clouds a thing of beauty, wonder and delight, and what I suggest we need to strive for electronically. Surely the last thing we want is a continuous blanket of grey digital cloud cover?
Meanwhile educationalists are starting to wonder if there’s anything in the Cloud for them? Apple’s free 5Gb of storage, bypassing the need for local area networks that won’t easily speak to each other, is certainly a plus in the development of personal e-portfolios – but of course it only works if all participants are on the same type of cloud.
As for All Change Please!, we’re patiently awaiting the development of iCloud 9 – that’s the one we want to be on. ‘Cloud 9’ is defined as ‘being in a state of great happiness’. Apparently – if you believe anything you read on the internet – there are 10 cloud-types and Cloud No. 9, ‘Cumulonimbus’, is the highest-topped and most comfortable-looking. So, nothing at all to do with drugs then.
Or perhaps this is all just iCloud cuckoo land, where, according to a play by Aristophanes, there is a perfect, unrealistically idealistic city in the clouds.
But surely the iCloud is actually made up of lots of smaller individual clouds – one for each of us. How secure are these mini-clouds? Do we want to be able to share our personal clouds with each other? As the Rolling Stones didn’t sing back in 1965, ‘Hey! You! Get off of my iCloud’.
And as William Wordsworth warned back in 1807, clouds can be rather solitary, when he didn’t write ‘I wandered lonely as an iCloud…’