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Rethinking the cloud

A couple of recent events have caused me to reanalyze and clarify my thoughts about Cloud computing: first there was the GPO Purl server crash and today there’s the story about massive data loss from T-Mobile and Microsoft/Danger for anyone using a Sidekick:

“Regrettably, based on Microsoft/Danger’s latest recovery assessment of their systems, we must now inform you that personal information stored on your device—such as contacts, calendar entries, to-do lists or photos—that is no longer on your Sidekick almost certainly has been lost as a result of a server failure at Microsoft/Danger.”

Ouch indeed!

Cloud computing is basically the outsourcing of Web services (storage, email and other application layers, computational cycles etc) to a third party. Although I am guilty of using the cloud metaphor to describe the digital FDLP, it’s clear from the concept map below that I don’t mean we should outsource FDLP Web services to third parties. I hope it’s clear that I’m describing a collaborative and distributed system of digital content, collaborative cataloging/metadata creation, as well as shared technical infrastructure in which data and technological redundancy and collective and proactive action reign. This is the exact opposite of the “cloud.”

So what would that metaphor be? I was thinking of the birch or banyan tree; but it’s more like the symbiosis or mutual aid exhibited by certain ants and trees. It’s a Peer-to-peer network with a conscience. Let’s call it the FDLP ecosystem.

This is a concept map describing FGI's vision for a digital Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP).

This is a concept map describing FGI’s vision for a digital Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). It is based on a drawing I did that was included on p.109 of the report “Managing and Sustaining A State Government Publications Program in California: A Report on the Existing Situation and Recommendations for Action” (2004) (http://freegovinfo.info/files/freegovinfo.info/Managing_Sustain_State_Gov_Pub_Progam.pdf). **made with IHMC Cmap tools (http://cmap.ihmc.us/conceptmap.html)**

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