Books written by Ray Sullivan

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Head in the Cloud

Hands up if you've got a bookcase crammed with books?  How about a CD shelf?  A frightening number of DVDs bursting out of your TV cabinet?  Box of photos in the attic?  And by box, I mean a big box.  I'll bet half of you still have video tapes and, if I probe enough of you, at least one will still have some Betamax tapes, next to the eight tracks on the shelf.

Yup, in what seems a blink of my eye, but is probably more than a lifetime for some of you, technologies have come and gone and will probably disappear without a trace in the next ten years.

Books?  Well you should know my view by now, sure there will be a resistance to eBooks but that will change - pricing, ecological arguments, the sheer convenience of carrying around countless books will reach a tipping point soon.

Music?  In my lifetime I've seen vinyl go, come back, go again, resurface and despite holding respect for a minority of collectors will go once and for all soon.  The unit cost of manufacturing, the ecology point (again) and the viable alternatives will render vinyl as relevant as the eight tracks some of you still love to play - both of you.  CDs are going the same way, and I'll admit to being a bit of a dinosaur here as I still buy the odd one myself.  But the future isn't plastic based, it isn't even physical in the sense of hard drives, USB flash drives and MP3 players.

The same goes for your photos, the fading ones in the box upstairs and the thousands on various media associated with your digital camera.  Let's face it, they're becoming unmanageable and difficult to keep track of anyway.  Some will be duplicated on several hard drives, DVDs and flash drives, others, probably the ones that you really want to keep, are in one place only.  If you can remember where they are, it would be great.

And what about those films on DVD and Blu-ray?  Think of it as a temporary solution that is almost played out.  Already we're hooking into Lovefilm and Netflix for our old  films and TV programmes.  The established TV companies are struggling to pay their way using the traditional advertising model.  It doesn't work anymore because increasingly we're recording our TV on hard drive recorders and fast forwarding through the ads.  Think of 2015 (or thereabouts) as the year the networks went subscription.  Once that step is made then programming as we know it will disappear also - programmes will be released at a point in time and will then be available for viewing when required.  With subscription YouTube will almost become redundant as we'll all have our own personal YouTube.

Sure, there will still be advertising TV, but it will be for those who won't or can't pay for subscription TV.  But who wants to pay to advertise to the poor or the tight fisted?

All of these activities will take place on Clouds, the huge server networks being constructed and linked around the planet.  Apple have one and millions of us are using it.  Amazon are developing theirs - it's up and running in the US but I think they are struggling to broaden it across Europe, which is probably as good a reason as to why the Kindle Fire still hasn't launched here.  Your mobile phone probably uses a cloud and if you prefer webmail to a client based service such as Outlook then your emails are sat on a cloud.

Cloud based storage has moved from a concept to a reality in a few short years.  It is being used by you and me, often unknowingly, and is used by small, medium and large corporations.  Governments and their agencies are tapping into Clouds big time.  Bolt on your remaining legacy photos, music, books; add subscription TV, film and music and you'll find that we're up in the Clouds and there's no going back.  Or, indeed, down.


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