Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Vitam in nubem

For many computer users living in the cloud has been possible for some time. Academic Jeff Jervis is a regular on one of my favourite podcasts, This Week in Google. In a recent post La Vita Cloudy on his Buzzmachine blog Jeff proudly announces he has moved entirely into the cloud. As a fellow academic now retired, but from the computer science discipline, I commend his move and predict the cloud will meet all his computing needs.

What I find puzzling are the doubts expressed by Jeff's podcast colleagues (Leo and the talented Gina). As a computer scientist I deemed it very clear that the cloud would become the obvious work environment for the big majority of computer users. More than 5 years ago in 2006 at a local Barcamp (Working in the Cloud Update) I was voicing this view. When the Chromebook was announced in May 2011 it was clear to me that I could recommend it as the all-purpose machine for most people wanting a computer keyboard. At that time I predicted Chromebooks Take Us Closest So Far to a Post-PC Era. I couldn't buy a Chromebook in Australia until early 2013 but in July 2011 I was very annoyed at the many blinkered reviews, Many Chromebook Reviews So Short-Sighted. At the time I listed the Chromebook shortcomings as:

  • No Bluetooth
  • Difficult printing
  • No Skype
Even then the positives far outweighed this list. As of today only the last remains and Google+ Hangouts is a good substitute.

I do have to admit to Jeff that I am yet to go the whole hog myself. In hindsight I could have published my first Kindle book The Cloud and You entirely on my Chromebook but chickened out as I explained in Publishing in the Cloud. At this point too I have to agree with Leo that creating and editing the videos for my first MOOC also called The Cloud and You can not currently be done productively in the cloud. Even allowing for Internet bandwidth limitations I strongly believe such a task will be possible in the cloud very soon as video cloud editing apps do already exist.

With a Chromebook Jeff believes he is free of Microsoft and Apple. I think he will find this will not be such a clean break. Microsoft Office Online for example runs just great on a Chromebook and will likely handle a publisher's weird Word book template much better than Google Docs. An Office 365 subscription might still brings benefits and, who knows, Office might even become available as a set of dedicated Chrome apps!

So good luck Jeff. I am close behind you but not an absolutely pure cloudy just yet.