Wishing on a Cloud
The first time I ever heard of cloud computing was when I was at a writers conference in New York City after the tech bubble had burst. Hundreds of writers were running around conference rooms trying to figure out how to make up for the lost revenue they saw pouring through their fingers when top technology magazines went belly-up after technology stocks hit the skids. You think technology corporation CEOs were the only ones who lost money? No way. There were many publications who had been raking in a tidy bundle during the 1990s putting out stories about the tech craze. And the people who wrote the stories—freelance journalists—were the first ones to feel the pinch when the magazines and newspaper special sections bit the dust in 2001.
So, I was crammed into a conference room with many other eager writers when a Columbia University professor started to tell us about Google Docs. Here's the way, he said, to have your article edited by a team of editors without passing it through the mail. (And postage was expensive.) Indeed, it was a way to have the document just pass through one computer and several people could get a whack at it, adding editing, ideas, and advice.
"But where is it stored?" everyone asked.
"It's in the cloud," he said. He drew a diagram on the whiteboard at the front of the room, which showed several computers all connected to a fuzzy white thing in the sky. Arrows pointed back and forth from the cloud to the computers, and he explained that no matter what input the computer operator put into the document, it all stayed, nice and tidy in the cloud. Then the author could retrieve the document, accept or reject the changes and go on to submit his or her article. It sounded so darn futuristic that we were star-struck.
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I came home (and this was just in the early 2000s) babbling about the cloud to my computer professional husband. He was thunderstruck that his journalist wife was talking about such an advanced concept.