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Youth Courthouse Project

Technology Committee

Techlectic ... by Pat Hoover

I've looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It's cloud illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all*


     Joni Mitchell was arguably among one of the world's most influential and acclaimed folk/pop crossover recording artists of the last century. Her iconic and hauntingly beautiful song, Both Sides Now, is  a favorite of millions across the globe. When she released her seminal LP, Clouds with the gorgeous song, Both Sides Now, Joni Mitchell would have surely agreed, her album, Clouds, had nothing to do with online computer storage. But a more apt lyric than, I really don't know clouds at all,  is hard to imagine for the plight of so many internet users who remain terribly confused by the term the “Cloud”.  
     My advice is this: don't over think it folks. Its really not so awfully confusing at all. Besides, there’s no better way to date yourself as dinosaur egg old than to loudly complain about ”the cloud” at every opportunity you come across!
     Cloud storage, cloud servers, online cloud software programs,  your cloud data, your private cloud, cloud hosting and “our” cloud protocol...there are a bunch of variations on the theme but it basically all comes down to the same thing. When you see or hear the term cloud in the context of online interaction by one or more internet users, whether through use of a mobile smart phone, a Windows PC, Apple computer, Android box, Unix machine, Linux or whatever...reference to the/our/your, cloud, simply means that your online interaction has been stored on a computer server for use by you and others.
     The cloud is simply a marvelous and nowadays, a very mainstream, methodology with which to store and facilitate the handling and navigation of your information. It’s called the cloud because the server (no more than a large network capable heavy horsepower computer) is not on your machine. The data is not on you computer or at least not exclusively. Your data is stored remotely from your computer, likely somewhere in a large data farm holding scores of servers that are each capable of handling thousands and millions of individuals cloud transactions every minute of every day. 
     Seriously, it's just wrong to cast an overly suspicious eye at every online transaction that utilizes cloud storage since the cloud has been in heavy use for many decades (without you knowing of it, maybe) but it’s definitely been around for many decades. Only since we individuals have been granted access to it, has the ”cloud” term come into common usage–but, trust me, your bank has stored your financial data on their own “cloud” for many years. So too the IRS, credit card companies and airlines, to name a few. So please, to some of my beloved but weirdly proud online luddites who bemoan the cloud and are deeply suspicious about it, stop. That ship has long since sailed and you do no one a service harping on the “cloud” and ranting about your cloud suspicions. 
     If you just can’t help yourself and still harbor a lingering, dark suspicion of “the cloud” consider this. It is not the cloud you need worry over. The real question is not the security and ethics of cloud computing. The real question is who is in charge of your cloud and can you trust them and when it comes to scary outfits like the NSA and CIA, I’m with you!


*Lyrics from the audio-iconic, song entitled, Clouds, heard on the second studio album by Canadian singer-songwriter, Joni Mitchell, released on May 1, 1969, by Reprise Records. Click here (or go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7Xm30heHms) for an online (yes, a cloud) link to hear a video performance of Joni Mitchell singing Both Sides Now from the revered LP, Clouds. Do it people, I promise, you’ll love it!

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