The internet we have grown up with is a decentralised network of separate computers, with their own software and data. Cloud computing may look like an extension of this network-centric logic but, in fact, it is quite different.
As cloud computing comes of age, our links to one another will be increasingly routed through a vast shared “cloud” of data and software. These clouds, supported by huge server farms all over the world, will allow us to access data from many devices, not just computers; to use programs only when we need them and to share expensive resources such as servers more efficiently. Instead of linking to one another through a dumb, decentralised network, we will all be linking to and through shared clouds.
Which raises the question: whose clouds will these be?
Cloud computing is bringing with it “cloud capitalism”. Companies will make money from organising these clouds for us. Apple already is, with its iTunes cloud of music and its cloud of thousands of third-party apps to run on the iPhone. Cloud computing will also bring a kind of cloud culture: increasingly, we will express ourselves through these clouds of films, videos, pictures, books, stories and music.