(A)Head in the Clouds; or, where my filez at? (Weekend Assignment #364)


This year’s big tech buzzword is “clouds.” Are you ready to fly?

Weekend Assignment #364: Ahead in the Clouds?
Suddenly the marketing departments of Microsoft and other tech giants are all about “the cloud” or “clouds,” the practice of storing large files online and streaming them rather than everyone storing them locally on their hard drives. Do you think this is a good idea, a bad idea or both?
Extra Credit: Do you still buy CDs and DVDs?

Going backwards with this Assignment, as I often do, I’ll start with the extra credit: I haven’t bought a CD in at least a couple of years. I’ve grown very fond of having my music be portable, and even when I did buy CDs I immediately ripped them into my iTunes library. Last year, I bought a car that contains a USB port that connects my iPod directly to its stereo system, and a few weeks ago, I got my first iPhone. Granted, my music lives on several different hard/flash drives, but as long as I store the songs I want where I want them, it travels with me. I do still buy DVDs, though, and I don’t foresee that changing unless we sign up with a service that lets us download and store video content on a device that feeds to our TV. I really don’t want to watch movies or TV shows on my computer or my phone; I want those on the (relatively) big screen in the family room, and honestly, I’ve found the quality of some streaming video to be quite inconsistent.

Therefore, when it comes to entertainment content, I’m still relatively traditional (as defined by “tradition” of the last decade, anyway). In other respects, I have embraced “cloud computing.” I’ve used Google Docs for years as my main writing space, just because it allows me to access my documents anywhere. A good chunk of my life lives on Google’s clouds, actually – my e-mail, many of my photos, my blog; I will be in BIG trouble if they ever crash!

As the devices we use become smaller, lighter, and faster, they won’t provide as much physical drive space for file storage, so migrating to the clouds makes a lot of sense, and I love the “available-anywhere” aspect of storing things there. However, when I think about it a little more, I realize most of the cloud-based computing I do doesn’t cost me anything; I still have physical possession, in one way or another, of content that I pay for (and yes, I’m counting digital files stored on a drive as being “physically possessed” in this context). I’m pretty comfortable with that arrangement, and not particularly motivated to change it myself at this point, particularly since I still feel that the transmission quality of streamed content isn’t consistently as high as that of physical media (the artistic and production qualities are a completely separate issue, and still range from excellent to sucky either way). I’m not saying I’ll remain set in my ways, though – I really didn’t expect that I’d stop buying CDs. And not that anyone asked, but I’m definitely not going to stop buying books!

Are you a cloud computer, or do you prefer your media to be right in your own hands?

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