The prognosticators of progress are debating whether cloud computing will win — the idea that a network of servers will eventually run all of your technology, so you just need tiny devices that plug in. Google and Oracle like this concept, while Microsoft, of course, does not. Redmond’s executives can’t make money selling Office apps to PC users if everyone just boots up inside a web browser window.
Paul Boutin in Slate argues that cloud computing will NOT take off, because our local devices are still more powerful than networks and frankly, people need horsepower. Boutin says (1) most networked apps, such as Google Docs, still suck compared to local programs, and (2) the photo- and video-heavy wizardry of today’s iPhone-type gadgets just won’t work on networks for years to come.
These are fair points, but our money is still on Google. People will adopt cloud computing for a simple reason — we value personal connections more than high fidelity. Boutin misses a trend of how people use technology today, where humans put a premium on social connections over resolution. We want YouTube, not movies; MP3s, not CDs; horrible Blogger text interfaces (ahem), not Microsoft Word. In the past 20 years we’ve taken numerous steps backward, if the gadgets or interface make social communication easier.
If technology helps us connect, then we jump in. We text via Twitter vs. send beautiful letters via U.S. Mail. Who cares if the technology is rough as long as it helps us connect.
There is one exception. If Microsoft invents a TV remote control that actually works, we don’t care how big the hard drive or software OS — sign us up today.