Head in the clouds
WHAT computer are you using when you’re not using a computer? A cloud computer.
Google’s new cloud-based laptop, the Chromebook, offers users internet access using the Chrome browser.
But it’s not really a laptop and it doesn’t have access to the web. It is the web, on a computer-like object. There is no desktop or wallpaper, no programs, folders or files. There are not even any software programs installed. So, how do you do stuff with it? Its success relies on the supposition that everything we do, we can do online, through cloud computing.
Cloud computing is basically storing all of your files on the internet, instead of on a computer hard drive. No more running home to pick up documents; no more leaving files at work. If all of your email, calendars, contacts, books and documents are stored online, you can access them anywhere, from any device.
In fact, if you lose your computer, phone or tablet, your files remain safe because they’re not stored on your machine. It sounds like the future, right? Well, the future can be a scary place. With closed-door operating systems, like those on the iPhone and iPad, making poking around in computer files impossible for most users, there is a new end-user simplicity being offered by the cloud.
But the ‘‘ dumbing down’’ of computers and devices is only dumbing down the users at a time when computer literacy is becoming more essential. The redeeming idea of cloud storage is that the user is always connected and their technology experience is the same everywhere, on every device.
However, security and privacy issues are becoming everyday concerns. Compliance with terms and conditions, combined with legal or contractual issues, complicate membership.
These things are usually overlooked by causal, young or inexperienced users.
Because a laptop or tablet can do all of these things and more, the Chromebook may not be a sales success. The most gamechanging thing about its release is it suggests a complete culture shift in the way we use technology.
Is storing everything online, in the cloud, the future of computing? We’ll see.
In the meantime, I’m still backing up my hard drives and resisting complete surrender.