[ExI] Backing up the Cloud

Jef Allbright jef at jefallbright.net
Wed Oct 1 14:23:43 UTC 2008

On Tue, Sep 30, 2008 at 10:43 PM, Emlyn <emlynoregan at gmail.com> wrote:
> Secondly, and actually on the topic of the post, people are raising
> the obvious questions about "Cloud Computing" - isn't it bad to have
> all your precious data and kitty cat photos in the hands of an
> unaccountable commercial entity? Well, yeah.

I'm an enthusiastic supporter of increasing virtualization of our
computing resources, but as usual, effective understanding entails a
model more complex than what's available from the soundbites and blog
entries of either supporters or detractors.

Computing in the cloud will continue to grow because it provides
increasing synergies with decreasing costs.

Should I unpack that statement and provide examples?  Would be nice,
but can't justify spending the time.

I'll simply share an example that was for me a good lesson in
distinguishing potential from over-hyped promise.  Second-Life.
Nearly five years ago, enthused with the potential of a virtual world
with the potential to boost interaction by making irrelevant many of
the constraints of the physical world, overcoming limitations of
location, space, mass, etc., I and my "alts" embarked on the path of
creating a virtual museum of futurist thought.  With an elegant and
open-ended helical architecture, and repeating segments of "Empathy,
Energy, Efficacy, Extropy", I created an architecture for sharing
pieces of a growing vision of our future.

[I didn't realize, until just this moment, the surprising similarity
of my building to a single strand of DNA with its segments of GTAC.

Investing hundreds of hours (and hundreds of dollars) in the virtual
land and learning the workarounds necessary for effective programming
in the flimsy scripting language, I waited only for the promised
connections to the web: XMLRPC, "HTML on a prim",... in order to
exploit and synergize with an existing and growing base of highly
relevant information **outside the walls of Second Life**.  I waited,
and paid my rent, and waited some more... and eventually realized that
I was being naive.

So I packed up my inventory, which remains LOCKED UP within the walls,
sold my virtual land, and moved out of my virtual residence. Since
then, I visit SL very occasionally, but find that in the succeeding
two years the situation has not fundamentally improved.  I now monitor
projects like OpenCroquet, and OpenSim, and expect that eventually I
will run something similar on my own server, or better, have
effectively complete access to a virtual server leveraged in the
cloud.  Then, it would be worth my while to return.

Moral:  Virtualization of computation is a very general, highly
applicable good for its increasing synergies at decreasing cost, BUT
NOT with a net LOSS of ownership of one's data or its usability.
We're moving in a good direction, but can expect some painful learning
experiences along the way.

- Jef

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