Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Living online

I have a blog, that at least is self evident.  I'm on twitter (rarely), I have an account on (used most of the time), I spend time on Facebook, I have Google Reader account pulling in about 40 news feeds.  My phone is hooked up to most of these accounts so I can access information on the go (it even pulls up the weather and some stock prices when my alarm goes off so I can see what the day holds).  I write documents online using Google Docs, my email is provided by Google as is my calendar.  I have a paid for Ubuntu One account where most of my photos and all of my important documents are stored, and I'm thinking of paying for more space with Picasa so I can put more photos up there as well.  Oh, and my bookmarks are automatically synced between all my devices via my browser.

Writing it all out like that it suddenly becomes very clear how much I rely on the internet and good internet access.  I could have a cheaper home ADSL account but I pay a little more for cable so I can get the speed; but that's important to me as having "up to" 4Mb is useless, I don't want to leave my laptop on all weekend so I can upload the photos that I've taken during the week to my on-line storage account.  Likewise I want the download speed so that my other devices can pull down new files quicker.

Put simply, my entire life is in the hands of corporations with my data stored on their anonymous servers distributed across the world.  I'm not really going anywhere with this train of thought, I'm not one who thinks that all these services should be open - realistically no individual is going to have the resources to match something like Amazons Cloud Services - and I'm not scaremongering you into thinking that these faceless corporations are out to own us all, all though I'm sure one-or-two of them are.  Rather I'm looking at this situation in astonishment.

When I first got on-line the biggest problem I had was how to carry around 20 floppy discs safely in my bag without bending or breaking them.  The future then was how we would have devices so we could carry our digital lives around in our pockets.  Back when I was 16 if you had told me that instead of having storage in my pocket I would have a device to access my on-line virtual storage I probably would have given you a sympathetic look and asked if you wanted to sit down for a while.

My 6-month old son is now living in a world where he's had an on-line presence since he was 40 minutes old, since he was born mobile devices have gotten faster, new video codecs have arrived looking to replace flash movies and self-healing solar cells have been demonstrated.  It makes me wonder if, when he's old enough to start using a computer, telling him about storing data on your computer (or indeed 20 floppy discs in your school bag) might illicit the same response I would have given when I was 16 and on-line storage meant having your own website.