Monday, March 10, 2008

Communities in the cloud

I was watching an incredibly current program on the rise of Web 2.0 late Sunday evening.  "Download: Internet" on The Science Channel hosted by John Heileman.   Between interviews with David Weekly, Shawn Fanning, Mark Zuckerburg, Heileman provided balanced commentary in a consumable fashion suitable to most technophobes.

This show reminded me of a project that my sister-in-law Katie had to do while she was a freshman in college.  A quick search of my 13-year deep 'Sent-Items' e-mail library yielded a presentation that I'd made contributions towards in October 2003.   This was during the era of the RIAA vs. Napster - everyone was abandoning the single index server model in favor of the distributed, P2P network Kazaa. (Predecessor to LimeWire, eMule and BitTorrent).  The question to be answered was "What will bring an end to free-music sharing ?"  Our conclusion was technologically speaking, nothing.

Community + Cloud = Web 3.0 ?
It was a little over 4 years ago that I pontificated about "Trusted Peers".  Today you'd call that your friends on Facebook, your contacts on LinkedIn, or your buddy-list on AIM/MSN/Yahoo/etc.  I think it's appropriate to revisit this concept today because of the rise of cloud computing services and anything that gets abbreviated "aaS"

Without taking a tangent into my positions on disaggregation and virtualization, I believe that cloud computing is the revolution that when paired with what is a ~8 year evolution in social networking will take the web to it's next level of maturity.

Let's take the song-swapping example from above.  My brother has an extensive digital music collection (in addition to thousands of records and CD's).  Today we both store our respective music libraries on our PC's.  - What a STUPID place to store media because it locks that content not only to ourselves, but that one single device.  Everyone I know is moving their media to home media servers or home-NAS devices. - That's great for everyone in your house, but why wall yourself off from the content of your trusted peers (friends & family) ?

Enter the value of the cloud.  What if instead of buying a home NAS server, or more USB hard-drives, my brother and I bought storage on Amazon's S3 storage service ? At a recurring $0.15/GB/month today's hosted services cost quite a bit more than purchasing hard-disk storage outright. (Using today's prices of $0.33/GB) - but there's no cost for backup, electricity, heat/cooling - oh yeah, and it'a available to you everywhere you go (PC, car, work) as well as all of your trusted peers.

I'm sure I'll get more into the value of virtualization towards making this a reality as well as the benefits of disaggregation for content consmers, but for now this should be enough food for thought.

Best Regards,

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