It’s been quite cloudy lately, and I don’t mean the weather. Rather, I’m pointing at that giant virtual cloud that is slowly engulfing all of us. Has anyone imagined things to be the way they are lately, in terms of online sharing, storage, and information processing?
Have you ever read the short story of Isaac Asimov entitled “The Last Question”? It was written in 1956, and I was first able to read it when I was still in high school, in the late 90′s. Interesting enough, Asimov in the 50′s seemed to have a foreshadowing of the future, part of which we are in right now. The “computer” that Asimov repeatedly described in his short story across time seem to describe the actual development of our computing and intelligence systems, from the initial massive independent computer comprised of vacuum tubes, to what has become the Internet right now – a massive, interconnected cloud of data and information gathered from the different parts of the world. Try reading through the story and you can see the parallelisms with the development of technology.
I am of the generation that has experienced the beginning of personal computing – big personal computers that featured black screens with green characters. The operating system was MSDOS that ran from a 5 1/4″ floppy disk. You needed two floppy disk drives so that the second one can run your software. Files were saved and shared via diskettes. Eventually, storage improved, and things such as hard drives, compact disks, external hard drives, USB thumb drives, and compact memory cards emerged. Parallel with these was the emergence of the Internet. I can still remember how I used it then, connecting via dial-up, going online to use my email, instant messenger (ICQ), and chat rooms (MIRC). There weren’t too much information online yet, no blogs or social networks. As Internet connection started improving and the access became easier, a wealth of information started collecting online almost at lightning speed. Now, almost everything can be found and done online – music, movies, booking of airline and hotels, shopping, and even online courses. It really changed the way we live our lives. Then, there was the advent of mobile computing, and now almost anyone can access the Internet wherever they are.
I have realized how much of my daily life now involves cloud computing and cloud storage:
- I am writing the draft of this blog on my Evernote. It’s a virtual notebook, with everything stored in the cloud. Of course, it’s secure and private, and only I can access what I write. My Evernote notebook is also accessible across my different devices (iPad, iPhone, laptop, desktop), and can be accessed using a browser on any computer (as long as I login with my username and password). I use it for almost anything – notes, blog drafts, shopping lists, task lists, etc.
- There are four online storages that my laptop and mobile devices are all connected to – Google Drive, Dropbox, iCloud, and SkyDrive. Almost all of my files are safely stored online. The reason why I did this is because I have already encountered several occurrences when my external hard drive or laptop or desktop crashed, and there was no way to recover the data anymore. At least in the cloud, I am sure that my data is safe from instant unintended annihilation.
- I am pretty happy with Google’s online services – Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, among others. They are so amazingly efficient in the things that need getting done every day. Google Drive even allows you to create, edit, and upload documents, spreadsheets, and presentations, albeit still with limited features. Nonetheless, it’s a perfect way to collaboratively work on documents with other people, online, and in real time.
- There are still a number of other cloud-based applications I periodically use, most of which I can’t remember or enumerate at the moment.
Interesting to note how cloudy my life has been, in terms of my activities connected to the cloud. I am somehow an advocate to exploring the possible uses for it for our personal and professional lives, to be able to seize the opportunities that they present to us.
We could only imagine how much more our technologies will change our lives in the near and far future in terms of the way we do things, we access and share information, we store and transcribe history.