Cloud computing for personal information has set off my designer alarm bells.

For the purposes of this analysis it means keeping your private data, such as e-mails, pictures, financial records etc. in a place other than your home computers and accessing them by connecting to that storage location. Let's call this material your "information assets." I think this method of turning your information assets over to third parties completely contradicts the design purpose and capability of modern memory storage and computers.


Here's a question which looks absurd but may actually clear up this "cloudy" area. If you owned millions of tiny angels trained to dance on the head of a single little pin is there any reason why you should not keep that pin in your possession? Is there any reason why you should turn that pin and all the little angels over to an "angel storage"company located in a cloud a thousand miles away? Is there any reason to pay such a company to have control over your angels and your pin in order to let you look at them through special communication channels entirely out of your control? I'm hoping the reader will say "Hell, No! Not with my angels!"

Now, switch the angels to bits of your information and change the pin to the tiny device needed to store and access that information in your home or office. My design point is this: The entire trend of modern computer information technology is to allow the storage and use of data to be accomplished in tiny, highly portable devices, perfect for personal use. Why on earth would anyone now give up this control to centralized, corporate entities? A person can probably carry all the knowledge of humanity in a single attache case right now and on a three by five postcard in another ten years.

This looks like one of the biggest con games in history - an attempt by corporations to persuade people to turn over basic information assets to them for no good reason. It smells something like the classic tactic of selling the salami slice by slice rather than in one unit. It's all about potential profitability.


Some important commercial forces have apparently reached the conclusion that it will be more profitable to persuade consumer/suckers (let's call them "consuckers") to give up the powerful means they already have to keep and use their information assets in a fully independent and private way at home and turn it all over to a "cloud" controlled by the corporation.  It may be one thing for the "cloud" to supply entertainment from a central source but supplying personal information assets back to the people who created them and own them looks like a deception with tremendous potential for restriction and abuse of individual rights.

So my design advice is simple. Stay away from clouds and cloudy places. Let the sun shine in! Keep your tiny angels at home. You don't want to wake up one day and find you have no access to your correspondence, photos, records and all the electronic evidence that shows you exist. Nor do you want to be plagued by advertising specially tailored to all the quirks and foibles found in your personal info. Not to mention the things you may not want to have in the possession of unfriendly entities.