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Rethinking the cloud

A couple of recent events have caused me to reanalyze and clarify my thoughts about [w: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.

FDLP Cloud

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4 Comments

  1. janczyn says:

    It sounds sort of like what Roy Tennant is talking about here: http://bit.ly/12ziII

  2. jajacobs says:

    A short history of cloud computing outages, By Network World Staff Network World, (10/12/2009).

  3. jajacobs says:

    Rebecca will clarify some of the issues and elaborate a bit on the FDLP cloud idea at the DLC conference next week in Arlington, VA. The session is “Demystifying Digital Deposit: What It Is and What It Could Do for the Future of the FDLP,” Tuesday, Oct 20, 4:45-5:30. I hope lots of folks can attend!

    Check out the full Conference agenda for more details.

  4. jrjacobs says:

    So glad Rebecca and Jim will be presenting about digital deposit. Since GPO has added that question to the FDLP survey, it’ll be good to discuss what it is and what it isn’t. The cloud is definitely a loaded term and doesn’t really mean what I was describing or imagining. A friend from the San Diego Supercomputer Center said, “some greybeards are going back to the original metaphor: the grid” and suggested the term “shared digital libraries” which is good. But what I’m describing is more like a biological ecosystem, the FDLP ecosystem.

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