The cloud is sick
In a previous post (https://objectatrest.wordpress.com/2012/01/14/side-end-as-a-replacement-for-back-end-systems/) I did a brain dump of a basic case that I feel calls for a bigger change in how businesses store and provide data to users. Oddly, with the recent SOPA and PIPA events being stalled the internet seems to still be in a bit of a tumultuous place. The threat of censorship and site take-downs became real with file sharing sites like MegaUpload ran into tough times (http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/248469/megaupload_takedown_proves_sopa_and_pipa_are_unnecessary.html).
Just hit upload
The dream since the internet stepped into daylight from the dark recesses of the research facilities has been to move everything into always available storage. This “cloud” that people talk about is a something that many people have done for years. By using their computer as a way to get online to access these ubiquitous apps and data they untethered themselves from hardware vendors and OS makers. Unfortunately they traded that freedom for being tethered to the internet service vendors and application providers. Now instead of owning the data and being in charge of my own backups I trusted the cloud to keep my data safe. What could go wrong?
The internet drank too much. Stand back!
The internet has been chugging our data. It’s been downing music shooters, personal records pints, and precious memory pitchers. And like anyone who has been binge drinking knows there is only one place for all of that to go – up and out. I’m starting to notice a pattern in data providers. First I noticed this http://fedscoop.com/vas-blue-button-coming-to-all-federal-employees/. Long story short – “Here’s a button. Click it and take all the medical data we have on you. Have fun!”. Then of course there is the every popular “free all the datas!” sites like http://www.dataliberation.org/ which I admit to somewhat liking because it gives me an option instead of dreading having more info pile up in the powerhouse that is Google without an ability to get it out someday. But the general battle cry of online services and consumer companies is quickly becoming “You don’t like the fact that we now own all your data and you have to jump through hoops to get to it? No problem, here you take it. Good luck storing it and securing it and managing it and keeping it in sync and…” which translates to “Fuck off”. Real nice companies 😉 The easiest and most widespread example of this is the “print this page as a receipt for your records” pattern. No thanks, why don’t you hold onto it for me or better yet we can share it so we are both on the same page.
What’s the solution?
I thought I was the only one who wondered why no one was solving this sort of problem. Let’s just say I’m not sure why most startups are valued so highly when many of them are just perpetuating this problem. Then I came across http://remarkedly.com/2012/01/27/the-problem-with-startups-is-that-they-cant-solve-the-big-problems/ and realized that there might be other people who are starting to see the problem. I’m not saying I have the solution. Anyone who says “this is a solved problem here are 10 links to a bunch of sites I like/developed that lock down my data in a different way than the other guys” is just promoting their starving startup. The solution isn’t there because no one knows what the problem is. My humble opinion is that we need the problem clearly defined. My guess is that it isn’t a technical problem. It’s a problem with the fact that we bolted on systems to old processes and procedures. It might take a little shakeup in the basics of how companies manage and organize data. It might take a few big companies who work alongside their customers to make huge gains before the rest follow suite. If you have any suggestions or want to poke holes in my ideas leave a comment here https://objectatrest.wordpress.com/2012/01/14/side-end-as-a-replacement-for-back-end-systems/ and we can start the discussion.
In the end the internet will feel better after it gets sick. Hopefully it will learn how to drink without getting sick again. Then we can all party together.