Getting Some Perspective on Cloud Computing

Richard Stallman, creator of the GNU operating system and founder of the Free Software foundation, is no fan of cloud computing. From The Guardian:

“One reason you should not use web applications to do your computing is that you lose control,” Stallman said. “It’s just as bad as using a proprietary program. Do your own computing on your own computer with your copy of a freedom-respecting program.”

Stallman’s comments have inspired a host of counter arguments, including some nice publishing-centric analysis from Adam Hodgkin at Exact Editions:

This obsession with self-sufficiency and self-reliance, veers in the direction of paranoia. You don’t necessarily lose control if you outsource a service, especially if there is competition between various service providers. I am sure that there are dangers with a model of cloud computing in which only one company provides a platform for published books (that company would at the moment look like being Google) but there is really no reason why only one company should host and serve print in the cloud.

Stallman took a provocative route to an important caveat: a wholesale transfer to the cloud could bring unwanted repercussions, such as lock in or — if things go horribly awry — lock out. But, to Hodgkin’s point, publishers who carefully consider their needs may find significant value in cloud toolsets. Dismissing the cloud outright is just as egregious as blindly committing.

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