Welcome to the cloud, where everything is possible because your data has been set free.
Unlocked from solitary confinement on an isolated local hard drive, server or network, cloud data can (theoretically) appear in any browser, be shared with any application, and be put to any use you see fit. Connected via the Internet to any online system, your data is infinitely more versatile and valuable than ever before.
But only if your information is actually free.
Is your email really free if you can’t extract it from your webmail provider? Are your business contacts and relationships really yours if there’s no meaningful way to transfer them between online CRM systems? Do you really own your e-books, movies and music if their attached DRM dictates which devices you can consume them on?
Information locked inside one online application is just as restrained as information trapped on a single hard drive — but worse, because you don’t control the storage system in question.
Let’s go one step further and consider all the data you passively create, which has no analog on local systems.
The ad-tracking information innately generated by your surfing habits has value, and consequences, to which you should be privy. The meta-data divined from analysis of all your online data storage is also a product of your labors, and you should have as much access to, and benefit from, that information as the system you’re using. Moreover, the applications and services storing and creating this data are vulnerable to attack and exploitation, and you deserve to be apprised of the dangers — new and old — that arise from the widespread adoption of cloud computing.
The preeminent technical issue of this decade is data ownership. This blog is dedicated to discussing the implications of data ownership, and how individual users and organizations can take and retain control of their online data.
Not all, or even most, online services or applications seek to imprison your data — but some do. Data transparency and portability are not in the direct, short-term interest of your online service providers. The harder it is for you to change services, which is to say extract the content you create from an online application, the easier it is for vendors to protect their revenue. The less you know about the meta-data that online services collect on you, the more those vendors can exploit that data without oversight or opposition. That isn’t a conspiracy, that’s basic business.
The promise of the cloud is that your data can go anywhere and do anything you want. The peril of the cloud is that your data can only go where and do what your web application provider will allow. What is allowed should be indistinguishable from what you want. This blog will be dedicated to advancing that cause.
Welcome to the cloud, where everything will be possible only when your data has been set free.
Hope you’ve got a good backup plan.
What do you love — and what do you fear — about the cloud? Is data ownership a legitimate concern, or are we tilting at windmills? We welcome your feedback in the comments below.