Being in a media and technology major and surrounded by the culture of internet, it’s interesting how even after three years and one month into New Media, I still cannot define what the Cloud is. To be honest, I don’t even think anyone really covered the basics of the cloud until my EID100 lecture.
Whenever the term, cloud came up in conversation, my initial thoughts immediately go to Apple products and their iCloud system. From my prior understanding, the Cloud is a digital space where you can store and upload your digitalized data (pictures, documents, scans etc). But digging into the background of where the cloud came from and what exactly is the cloud, I found that my understanding was very limited.
The Cloud didn’t begin with Apple products and it doesn’t only store your information. The Cloud is a network of servers that use the internet to store, manage and process information. These servers allow you to upload and download information.
As university students, we use cloud services everyday. Here are some examples of cloud services that I typically use.
Let’s start with some more serious and important cloud services.
Google Drive have become an essential tool in university. Anything larger 25MB in GMail cannot be sent through the email platform. This has cause a huge problem in the past especially for those of us who may have to send presentations, graphics, video or massive files of codes. Google Drive allows us to upload our files onto their cloud service and enables us to download these files when we have access to the internet. Google Drive also has an option to enable others to have access to the information. So instead of giving a USB to your prof at the end of the term and having the prof keep your $20 USB, you can give them access to your Google Drive instead.
This has been a lifesaver for me. There are off days for everyone. Maybe you weren’t feeling well and you skipped class. Maybe the classroom (ahem, ENG106) was really stuffy causing you to lose focus. Your nice fellow classmates can take notes on Evernote and send or post the link so others can access the class notes. This has been a game changer in my program for those who don’t actively take notes. Fellow classmates often post a combination of notes at the end of the semester onto our FaceBook page for everyone’s reference and benefit.
Adobe Creative Cloud
A few years ago, Adobe products were sold in electronic stores in boxes along side Microsoft Office and eFile softwares. Now Adobe offers their products on the cloud where users pay a monthly or annual fee to access their products. On Apple products, Adobe programs can be accessed on the little cloud icon at the right hand corner of the screen. I never really understood the significance until the lecture so it was a huge ‘Ohhh’ moment for me. Basically, when you click on the cloud icon, you can download and update the programs you paid for and all of the program data is stored in their cloud. Much more convenient than going out and physically purchasing the program because who would want to go out when you’re a few clicks and a credit card payment away from your product.
Some not so serious cloud services…
Snapchat is a service where you can upload your images and send to others for a maximum of 10 seconds or uploaded onto your story for 24 hours. When Snapchat came out, their marketing strategy was the fact that the photos sent will be gone in 10 seconds. But let’s be real, nothing you upload through the internet is ever really gone. These pictures sent through the service is saved on to the snapchat servers for god knows what, but they’re not really deleted. Snapchat also came up with a new service that allows your to save your photos in a memories tab. So Snapchat has essentially became a image storing app as well. Snapchat is a good alternative to communicating to others as you can send short videos and images with ease compared to text messaging or email.
Instagram is an image-sharing platform that allows you to upload your image for others to see. Instagram is interesting because over the time you upload your pictures, it creates a timeline of your experiences. This allows you to look back on your memories as well as stalk other people’s lives. Although the act of downloading Instagram pictures is not an option in the app, it can easily be done by screenshotting and saving it into your phone. I prefer Instagram over other image-sharing platforms because of the application layout and the timeline effect it creates unlike other services like Flickr or Facebook where images are often mass uploaded and doesn’t really have a time sensitive aspect to it.
The Cloud is always around us whenever we need it. When we need to upload information, we upload it into the sky of possibilities and when we need it back, we reach up and grab it. The Cloud has become essential in our personal lives as well as our professional lives.