Since its beginning, Internet has been represented by a cloud symbol. Tiny drops of information dangling in virtual space: images, text, video, music travelling like a fluid around the world, never touching the ground. Plastic materials, semiconductors and liquid crystals of our personal computers are the windows on the web-based sky. Here is the image which “cloud computing” is named after.
Basically this expression (cloud computing) means that a new technology which allows the net not to be used in a “static” way, but letting users run both a software directly on the web in a dynamic way -with no need to install anything on their PC- and a database where they can save whatever type of files they want.
This way, the opportunities that come with it seem clear. Think about the incredible amount of CPU saving, when using software in cloud computing, and mass memory saving, when storing data on line. Moreover cloud allows companies to reduce costs considerably, as they can subscribe monthly or yearly to the specific platform they need, like some sort of pay-per-use service. Not underestimating the chance to get rid of all the responsibilities in maintaining and updating softwares. Also, the peculiarities of the applications allow the latter to be used even on your own smartphone or tablet.
But all that glitters is not gold. The cons of cloud computing make not a few doubts arise about the increasing habit of delivering it all on the web and, therefore, on third parties. For the web is indeed represented by an amazing, vanishing, unreal, snow-white virtual cloud, but, in detail, softwares, sites and data bases are property of natural persons and companies which are far from being it!
Let’s give an example. After the September 11 attacks, the U.S. Legal System enacted the USA PATRIOT ACT in order to fight terrorism; a law which in reality places strict limits to the citizens’ privacy. This act gives FBI, CIA and NSA the right to access databases, to track internet traffic and anything else surfing the American territory at any given moment. You might be asking “who cares?”, (though you might as well have understood what we’re dealing with). Most of the information technology companies which we entrust our data to, both private and business one, is U.S. based (Microsoft and Apple for instance) and, legally speaking, this virtually makes us U.S. citizens. Cloud Computing combined with the Patriot Act can easily turn into non-authorized market investigation, corporate espionage and who knows what other privacy violation form! (Pic.2)
It’s plain to see that it would be very interesting studying what happened and what will happen in any field since the advent of cloud computing. All the same, we’ll only direct our attention exclusively to the field we are considering here: the musical aspect. We’ll start by analyzing, in the next article, which instruments the cloud puts at the “musically-active” users’ disposal, that is to say at those who are not only listeners but in need of creating songs, editing and promoting them through the internet. Whether you are some professional musicians interested in the news from the field, or simply some amateurs who’d wish to get closer to this world for the first time, we’ll meet you next time always on Age of Audio for the second part of “A cloudy future”.
Italian to English translation: Umberto del Giudice