A Relevant Issue With Cloud Computers
Cory Doctorow points it out in a tweet:
A cloud computer is just like a regular computer, except you have to ask permission from the phone company every time you use it.
And this is why even though I’d be interested in playing with Google’s Cr-48 computer with the Chrome OS, at the end of the day there’s a lot of computing capability I’m going to want to keep native to my own computer. In the case of Google and its OS, there is or will be apparently some capability to work offline (the computer will sync with at least some its cloud components when it reestablished contact), but then the question will be how many of its components will do so, and how many of them won’t. A computer that doesn’t work how I want it to when I want it to isn’t a computer I’m actually going to want.
In addition to the point Cory mentions, I would add another, which is that in the United States, the 4th Amendment status of content saved “in the cloud” still appears to be ambiguous, notwithstanding this week’s 6th Circuit Court ruling regarding e-mail on service provider servers. I’m not fomenting treason or such, but even so, I’d still like my government to need a warrant if it suspects I am, rather than going to my cloud service provider and leaning on them to use its Terms of Service to short-circuit those rights.
Bear in mind I’m sort of talking out of both sides of my mouth to some extent, since in fact I use GMail to access my personal mail account, and a copy of my mail gets stored there, and I also use Google Docs on a weekly basis to write my Filmcritic.com column, for no other reason than it seemed like a good idea at the time, and now I keep doing it. I’m already partially in the cloud. But the difference, I suppose, is that I poke my head into the cloud when I want to, not because it’s the only option. And that’s still a substantial thing for me.