The implications of how iCloud stores your data (and other philosophical ramblings)

Apple's iCloud, Amazon, Google, everyone is pushing for "the cloud". The concept is to centralize data storage remotely and then share/sync that data back across all devices. A lot of current manufacturers will now be using the cloud concept to force vertical integration across all their products, apps and devices - i.e. by shipping hardware devices with no physical memory.

Why should you care? For the majority of people, this is not a big deal. My guess is people will accept the tradeoff because it simplifies data storage and improves their quality of life. However, the issue of data portability and whether or not companies will use the data as leverage to keep you locked in as a customer will eventually pop up. I anticipate that companies that support data portability, as well as gov't intervention will eventually equalize the playing field so that consumers can store their data wherever they like. That debate is probably a few years away though.

Despite how free and open the internet seems, it costs money to power and manage servers and store data (and to backup that data). One alternative to the cloud is to run your own local file server at home - for tech saavy folks this is a great option. These NAS (Network Attached Storage) file servers can be accessed across multiple devices and even prevent data loss if you get one with RAID. I believe some allow you to remotely access your data from the web as well, so its like creating your own local, private cloud*.

*NOTE: It's important to note that cloud storage is not just a hard drive in the sky but part of a new approach to software development. The point is that cloud storage abstracts our data in new ways with metadata...going beyond files and folders with physical memory addresses.

Cloud storage costs money too and right now most offer around 5 GB free with various per-gigabyte subscription models. My guess is that cloud storage will become part of other service costs such as your cell phone or internet bill. But until then, a NAS file server is a cheaper option especially if you have terabytes of data.

But as devices change their design to work with networked storage, will local data storage disappear from the market entirely? Will we be living in a weird abstract world where the entire universe of data lives in a big nebulous redundant network and "our data" is just data tagged with our name?

Such a hyper connected world raises some philosophical questions. The internet, along with advances in genetics and 3D printing challenge our accepted notions of individuality, uniqueness, intelligence and humanity. What does it mean to be different? What does it mean to be connected? If we had the choice to control every single aspect of our environment and universe and experience, would it make our lives better or drive us all to madness? What is the point of all of this stuff? Might be time to review some Dostoevsky and Nietzsche...

nofunsally_ (not verified) says:

Thanks for this post!

xbeethovenx (not verified) says:

F- the cloud!

A computer connected to the internet 24/7 is more likely to be hacked!

1337 h@x00rZ r00l
ppl n teh cloud dr00l