Psychology of Technology: Cloud Computing: Lose My Data, Lose Myself?
Does anyone feel the least bit unsettled by the emergence of cloud computing as the Next Big Thing in computer innovation? Yes, it looks like a great idea on paper (or monitor): less computer hardware, common applications on line, cost savings, easy networking, a pooling of computer resources. Sounds like win-win, doesn’t it?
Not quite. Others with far greater technology minds than my own have expressed concerns about cloud computing related to privacy, security, disconnection from the Internet, vendor compliance and health, and data loss. And we saw evidence of the weakness of cloud computing with the recent loss of data by owners of T-Mobile’s Sidekick smartphone due to a system failure.
But my discomfort, not surprising given the focus of my writings, is far deeper and more visceral than concerns about, say, identity theft or invasions of privacy. My unease lies in what cloud computing may mean to us as psychological and emotional beings. Data, whether emails, documents, spreadsheets, finances, media, or other types of information, may just be collections of binary code, but they mean something much more important to us. All of those zeros and ones represent much of who we are: how we live and work, the people with whom we interact, and our values and interests.
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