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Wondering Why You Should Care About "Web 2.0"/"Cloud Computing"?

If you're like a lot of people I know both working with IT and those purporting to support those using IT) and are wondering what the big deal is about using a damned browser to do some fancy dancy things then I urge you to read Tim O'Reilly's Web 2.0 and Cloud Computing

Key phrase (out of a couple, I must admit):
This top level of cloud [Cloud-based end-user applications] computing definitely has network effects. If I had to place a bet, it would be that the application-level developer ecosystems eventually work their way back down the stack towards the infrastructure level, and the two meet in the middle. In fact, you can argue that that's what has already done, and thus represents the shape of things. It's a platform I have a strong feeling I (and anyone else interested in the evolution of the cloud platform) ought to be paying more attention to.

Ah yes, but the web, it's still a playground for those that have the time, inclination and not enough work to do ... isn't it? How does this fit into an organisation where all these noncey "Cloud-based end-user applications" are viewed with a very cynical eye?

Imagine if you were back in the early '80s at the advent of this new fandangle called a "PC" (IBM compatible, of course) ... would you have been able to forsee how it would transform each and every organisation you have ever worked in, done business with or merely "touched"? No, probably not, I know I didn't. However, there would be few amongst us that would have not felt that it was a changing moment ... computing life was not going to be the same for anyone.

I can actually remember the moment when I realised that. I was working at the newly opened St Ivel House in Wootton Basset (near Swindon, UK) in the IT Dept (having been moved out of the Finance Dept where I was working with actual people ;-). The IT Operations Manager was a very down to earth Welsh guy that I totally respected and during a week of "giving this new Windows 3.1" a go he approached me and asked, "Mike, be honest, do you think this is going to go anywhere?" ... I thought about how every single non-IT member that had had a play walked away with a smile on their faces because the buttons went up and down, the buttons were just like real button. I said, "Totally!"

Did I know how it would play out and what it would mean for Microsoft, PC manufacturers and that many many people would end up having a PC in their home, no. But I knew that it hit home emotionally and 'real people' got it.

I have seen that happen over and over with wiki editing, blogging and collaborating with Google Apps ("Wow, my mate is editing this spreadsheet AT THE SAME TIME!!"). It happens so many tims with so many other good cloud computing applications - in a nutshell: it just works.

How will this play out, no idea ... but it WILL play out.


  1. Just read another "that's so gonna work" moment around the developmnt of the iPod on Wired ( - page 3 has this from the engineers that were working on it:

    That interface made the iPod experience special even for those who had been intimately involved in designing it. For Stan Ng, the head-slapping moment came when he took his own prototype home for the first time. "I probably had 80 or 90 CDs' worth of music on my Macintosh; transferring down superfast over FireWire and then being able to pick any music, any album, whenever I wanted to was a feeling of freedom, of empowerment. It was just magic. I don't know how else to put it."

    It's not about cloud computing but is another example of "that's it!" that cloud computing (done well) delivers


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