We love our technology, but in some ways we are taking the old road.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Thing 45: Cloud Computing

I'm going back to do another "thing" from this year's state-wide library project, "More Things on a Stick." I did only my required ten items by the deadline and got my certificate and prize, but I did want to eventually learn about the rest of the library 2.0 topics.

Since I'm going to teach a class on cloud computing next week at the library, it was time to do the thing on that topic, I thought.

The advantages & disadvantages of joining the cloud by using a Web OS:
Boy, the topic on the wiki didn't cover much on web-based operating systems. But this is a timely topic, with Google just coming out with some announcements on Chrome OS, its web-based operating system. It and some other web operating systems are offered for free, so there's an advantage. This type of set-up allows you access on any web-enabled device wherever you have a connection. The current plans are only for netbooks, but that is supposed to be just the beginning. The disadvantage would be that you don't really own any of it, so more of the control is in their hands.

In general, the advantages of the cloud are that you can get to your stuff anywhere that you can get to the Internet. Many applications are free. And if your personal computer crashes, gets a virus, gets destroyed in a fire, your files are still safe out there in cyberspace. And many applications are available to share with others, leading to easier collaboration.

The disadvantage of working in the cloud is that you have to consider the security and privacy implications. A company has your information and/or your documents. Do you trust them? If they have a computer failure or go out of business, your information could be lost or at least temporarily inaccessible. You still need to back important things up on your computer or a memory stick. And if you can't get access to the Web (Ever had an Internet service outage? I have.), you don't have access to your files unless they are something you've saved locally.

Computing I do in the cloud:
This blog is in the cloud. I also use the following: Gmail, Google Maps, Facebook, Twitter, Delicious, Pandora, Amazon, online banking, Bloglines, online medical records, Picasa, Shutterfly. I have used PayPal and Photobucket, though not lately. I love working in the cloud. I don't have room on my computer to save all of my blog; thank goodness it isn't stored on my hard drive. I feel safer having my photos saved on Shutterfly. I really need to put all of them there, in case my computer ever succumbs to one of the viruses that come after it. I love being able to access so many things when I'm away from home. While on vacation this summer, I was able to continue to use Gmail to communicate with museum staff so that we could go on the dig I only learned about the day before we left. Plus I was able to check in with family via Gmail and Facebook so that we all knew everyone was okay, without any need for phone calls that can interrupt vacation time. At work I can pull up my Delicious links to help find resources for patrons, when I know I've saved something useful but can't remember the web address. That particular one is a productivity boost. I can also plug an event announcement into my workplace Facebook page from home; I don't have to be on that workplace computer to get to it.

Other cloud applications I plan to investigate:
I need to learn Google Docs by next week! Should I be admitting that? :-o I've been sent documents that way. I've read them but never worked on them. Google applications are usually pretty easy to work with, so I'm confident I can figure it out.

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