Wednesday, December 09, 2009

"Cloud" computing a.k.a. Centralized control

Being the radical cynic and skeptic that I am these days, I see nothing but mass data centralization from the move towards "cloud" computing for the inert masses being driven by such multinational corporate engines as Microsoft, among others (Hi, Google!). Doesn't it sound so warm and fuzzy to say "My stuff is out there in the cloud...wee! I can access it everywhere! Yahoo!" as opposed to saying "My stuff is completely outside my domain of control and resides on some server somewhere in the world that a multinational corporation, and also by implicit extension government, controls and can do with what they wish."

I don't think the common folk realize just how much of a paradigm shift this will become over time in regards to who REALLY will control virtually ALL of your personal data!

If/when we finally reach a stage where virtually every piece of data -- photos, e-mail, app data, and even apps themselves -- reside in "the cloud" (not your machine) and are accessed and, in the case of apps themselves, run only from "the cloud" (not your machine) the individual has lost the control of their data, privacy, and many aspects of freedom in general.

I really believe the aim here is to go retrograde, in a sense, to a time when there were only mainframes or minicomputers (yesterday's "cloud") where all apps, resources, and data resided and only a "dumb" terminal was available for the hapless peon to use in order to access his data and run apps. In other words, the home computer will simply become for all intents and purposes, a resurrected dumb terminal.

And privacy? What privacy? Anyone or any entity (not mutually exclusive, of course) who controls the server(s) in question in some data center can copy, view, steal, expropriate your valuable data. It's as simple as that. How will there be real privacy? Trust? Faith? Other than Jesus Christ Himself, I trust no one, especially in this haughty and reprobate day and age, except close associates and some family members. Obviously, there isn't and won't be any privacy, the corporate legalspeak that states otherwise notwithstanding. Needless to say, I don't plan to play in that sandbox.

Yes, everyone has had some personal data exposure on the Internet since the beginning, but not to this degree where folk seem eager and willing to entrust virtually all of their data to the whims of strangers in the "cloud." Your data will live on a remote box under some stranger's control, not your own box under your control. Ergo, unlike the commoner mass majority, I can't stomach the thought of exposing literally my entire life to the entire world! And I won't. I'll simply disengage from the "grid" if the only choice becomes to put my stuff in the hands and total control of another entity to be able to access it from anywhere through the Internet.

That's simply not how I play nor will ever play. For many years already, I've kept my most critical, valuable, personal data and apps within MY domain and under MY personal control. I either SSH into my box through an encrypted connection to access my data, and sometimes to even run X apps, remotely or I surf to my SSL-enabled website to retrieve my encrypted data. And, yes, I am my own CA ;), naturally. Speaking of being my own CA, it's amusing to observe a given browser have a conniption fit when it first hits my local web page. It'll display a message akin to "Get me out of here!" as well as stating that this website's certificate is not trusted (by whom? The powers that be?) and signed by a "trusted" Certificate Authority. Once again...naturally!

The bottom line is that I will continue to run my apps from my personal machine, not being spoon-fed to me in a browser window from a stranger's box out there in the ethereal somewhere.

Games, in various degrees, have already been gradually migrating to "the cloud" with such "cloudy" contraptions as Steam. "Install once, and play anywhere!" or something sounding similarly innocuous and convenient will become the mantra of the Age of the Cloud. Forget it, I'll pass.

Remember this well: Corporations and governments are married to each other; that's especially true with regards to multinational corporations. You'll pay to play, and not just in money.