There seems to be a trend for most of my posts this semester. I was using the technology being introduced, and didn’t even know what I was using! This week is no different. While I’d heard the term “cloud computing”, I didn’t really know what it meant. For me, it was some sort of fuzzy idea that my documents would be stored “out there” and that I could retrieve them from any device. True, but so much more. I am an avid Facebook user, and it never crossed my mind that this was cloud computing. I was aware that whatever I post there doesn’t really belong to me anymore – hence my hesitation to post some of my better pictures – as I don’t want Facebook to own them. I’ve also been using Google Docs for group projects. This feels like a lifesaver because it allows us to work together and view the same document without having to be in the same geographical area.
I really liked Kelly’s quote where, he says the “Internet has already become “one machine” and our devices are windows into it.” This word picture really clarifies the essence of how the cloud concept works.
At first glance it seems like cloud computing is a fantastic concept. Why wouldn’t we embrace it? Why would anyone not want to be able access their documents, photos, music, or anything else from any device, anywhere? As usual, there are privacy issues which should be considered. Who owns the material? Can security be breached? Who is actually taking care of my very important documents and photos?
How can (perhaps “should” is better word here?) libraries take advantage of this technology? Traditionally, libraries have spent large portions of their budget to maintain their individual systems, which largely remained in-house. I love the idea that libraries could share information in the cloud, where a community shares and expounds on the latest relevant technologies, news and information. Similar in theory to Facebook, where users share information and interact with other community members, libraries could do the same, saving on costs for software maintenance and hosting, as stated by Jordan in his article. I really liked Jordan’s phrase “Web-scale cooperative library management services”, because that is what it is! It’s big, it’s cooperative, and it’s all about managing and disseminating information widely and efficiently. I do have some concerns that many libraries will not want to be a part of cloud computing. There will be fears of privacy, and of who will actually own the material, and of what would happen if there were a breakdown of the company hosting the cloud, and of generally going in a new direction where some libraries have not been before.
In his article, Marshall uses the phrase “library software as service”. This struck me as the way in which libraries can view this. Cloud computing, when used and managed properly, can help libraries improve their service to the public, which is the bottom line. Are libraries providing the best possible service to their users? By reducing time and money spent on in-house IS management systems, and by increasing the speed in which information can be updated, used, and disseminated, service can be greatly enhanced. It will, however, take time for some libraries to catch on to this.