Do we really want to depend on 'the cloud'?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Student journalists learn a standard newswriting technique called the "inverted pyramid" in their freshman classes.

It makes for efficient reading -- the most important facts of the story are presented first, with less important details as the story continues.

The style stems, supposedly, from the days of the Civil War, when correspondents wanted to make sure the "gist" of their dispatches made it through before Confederate forces cut the telegraph line.

The telegraph, it turns out, was the "cloud" of its day.

Apple founder Steve Jobs took time off from his medical leave to unveil a new "cloud" based system in which your data -- music, documents, pictures, whatever -- is uploaded to the Internet, available for you to use on your computer device, provided it has an "i" in front of it -- iMac, iPhone, iPod, iPad.

When we got our first computers, they were self-contained; the hard drive, if it even had one, held everything we needed to do the simple tasks of calculating spreadsheets or word processing.

Soon we connected to the Internet, and were downloading simple text files and other information. The invention of the World Wide Web opened a new world of graphic interaction.

Now, Apple and others want to replace the hard drive in our computers and portable devices with a link to the Internet.

It's good for consumers -- no more "syncing" files between your various devices, as well as music companies, who actually can receive royalties from songs that have been illegally shared or copied.

But not everyone is happy about all their entertainment and business activities being tied to one company server. And, rural Nebraskans should be concerned about anything that depends on a network -- it was not that long ago that many of our neighbors were taken offline by a freak ice storm that took out power lines. Sunspots can interrupt wireless communications, and we don't even want to think about terrorism, cyber or otherwise.

Confederate forces, it seems, can take many forms when it comes to cutting the telegraph lines.

Perhaps the growth industry of the future will be companies that can provide local, safe storage of our data files.

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