Wikipedia defines cloud computing in terms of a metaphor – “for a user the network elements representing the provider-rendered services are invisible, as if obscured by a cloud”. It describes cloud computing as “a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient on-demand network access to a shared pool of configurable network resources”. Ubiquitous? As in omnipresent, unseen yet all around us? Yikes.
A few years ago, Dropbox lured me to “the cloud”. Oblivious to treachery of cloud’s insidious promise, Dropbox beguiled with masterful cunning. I could take a photo anywhere in the world, confident that image was safely tucked in the cloud. Be it 10 minutes or 10 days, those images glistened the moment my laptop came to life. They could be edited, shared, “dropped” into folders of friends and family. The cloud recognized my devices, never again would I have to bother with archaic uploads.For two years, nary a thought was given to thousands of images puffing my cloud.
Last week Dropbox informed me cloud days were over. My two year free ride were hook and line, the sinker required an annual payment of $119. Screw you Dropbox, I’ll upload photos myself. WTF? Why can’t I manually upload images? A little rusty doesn’t make me an idiot, there’s no reason this shouldn’t work. Out of my life Dropbox, lets see how you like it when I transfer your cloud to my desktop. Mission accomplished, what’s this? Dropbox is syncing with my phone again because deleting files created my 2GB of “free” storage. Still can’t manually transfer images from phone to laptop, but here’s an email from Dropbox informing me the cloud will keep deleted files for 30 days, I can have them back for $119 a year – thanks, but no thanks.
It hardly seems fair to finger Dropbox for my naive complacency. Shame on me for recklessly lining clouds without the slightest hint of trepidation. Rather sheepish to admit a call to my wallet, not common sense rang cloud alarm bells – I’m left to ponder the magnitude of cloud’s reach.
Far from professing to understand technicalities, one thing is clear – our future is cloudy whether we like it or not. Dropbox is a pipsqueak in the land of giants, an inconsequential puff against storms on the horizon. Digital lives flourish in an abstract dimension – it never occurs to ask where it goes, who sees it or how we can get it back.