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Save It to The Cloud: Computing the Rules of Engagement

December 17th, 2016 by Michael Dyet

“Nobody understands the cloud. It’s a f***ing mystery!”

Jason Segel in the movie Sex Tape

Hmmm, did you know that the admission to The Cloud is through a one-way door?

Save it to The Cloud. We hear that term on a regular basis now. Like Jason Segel’s character, I more or less get the basic concept but having difficulty grasping its complexity

The term itself is arguably an oxymoron. It conjures up an image of a giant, amorphous blob hanging in the sky that is packed full of data. Millions of bits and bytes of information free-floating over our heads.

There is something rather dreamy about that idea that appeals to the romantic in me. I visualize an environment where at any given time I can reach up and pluck a byte of data from The Cloud like picking a peach from a tree. How delightfully poetic and communal.

Alas, it is not quite so starry-eyed. In fact, The Cloud is a physical infrastructure – myriad computers in huge warehouses across the globe. It is about sharing resources to optimize performance through cloud computing.

When did the idea emerge? In the early 90’s, cyber visionaries began to visualize a way to use the whole world to share data resources. Apparently, engineers around that time began drawing a cloud to illustrate the concept in patent drawings.

Compaq engineers are credited with coining the phrase cloud computing in 1996. You will not be surprised to hear that the visionary Steve Jobs was among the early adopters. He talked about an iCloud at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference a year later.

The root concept, assuming I am grasping it correctly, is centered on two big ideas. Big idea #1 is about storage – storing data in a shared, central space rather than on your local computer. This leads to big idea #2 which is the ability to access this shared, stored data from any internet connected device wherever you happen to be.

All things grand in the technology world have strings attached. Storing your virtual property in The Cloud means it is now in the possession of a megacorporation to whom you must pay a monthly fee. Depending on the megacorp’s terms of service, you may or may not actually own or control that virtual property once you allow it to live in The Cloud.

At face value, The Cloud sounds like a happy, we’re-all-in-this-together place where everyone who participates benefits equally. But behind the fuzzy, cumulus, virtual coating, it is all about big business and big money with major players like Google and Amazon jockeying for position.

The Cloud has become in broad terms a metaphor for the internet as a whole in this digital, technology-driven era. But it is also a metaphor for the veil that covertly falls around us as we give up control of our virtual property to the megacorps.

Buyers beware: In this new virtual space, the term “delete” has become obsolete. Once you are in the The Cloud, you can never really get out of it.

~ Michael Robert Dyet is the author of “Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel” – double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at or the novel online companion at

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