Eric Schmidt gives a nice presentation on “what is” cloud computing.  Have a look…

Mozilla has announced a new project by their R&D group called Weave.

“One important area for exploration is the blending of the desktop and the Web through deeper integration of the browser with online services.”

There are lots of interesting comments and an explanation of what Weave is going to accomplish, but in fact, the diagram on the Mozilla Labs Blog describe it best:

Then the diagram is complemented by the following four bullet points:

  • browser metadata is pushed into the cloud (bookmarks, history, etc.)
  • this metadata is transparently reflected everywhere an individual gets online
  • we provide basic framework for easily sharing and delegating access to this metadata to family, friends and third-parties
  • we build tools and APIs to extend this framework and to provide new user experience

Fore more informaton on these concepts, check out the post on the blog.

Who wont store your data for free these days?

click here to see the agenda for the workshop and several other important links….access to videos, etc.

Workshop: “Computing in the Cloud”

Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University
“Civics in the Cloud”
Joshua Tauberer – GovTracks.us

January 15, 2008

This panel at the workshop was very interesting. The discussion was about using the cloud to strengthen the relationship between citizens and the government. How? Joshua Tauberer started a website called GovTrack.us to improve communication between the government and the citizens of this country. Govtrack.us is a tool used to track what is happening in congress. The website pools resources from a number of different website including Google Maps, local government website, campaign donation websites, etc. You can get customized rss feeds and emails that are relevant to your personal political interests. Furthermore, it collects information automatically from government websites (like Thomas.loc.gov) and represents it in a several new ways. For instance, there are websites that store public data on campaign donations and there are other websites that track earmark spending in legislative bills, but GovTracks.us combines the power of these existing sites in order to track the relationship between earmark spending and donations to study weather politicians are voting based on certain financial interests.

According to Tauberer, the U.S. Government only presents bills and laws in one perspective, but GovTracks.us uses the power of cloud computing to help you to see and understand them from a variety of different perspectives. Once concern of Tauberer’s is that government has no goals for how to incorporate technology into the legislative process in order to keep citizens more informed. Fortunately, there is lots of relevant data on government legislative actions, but there is no structure or a system to put relevant government databases together in a meaningful way to help the citizens understand what is going on in congress.

GovTracks.us is an example of how cloud computing can be used to bridge the citizens and congressmen. This panel helps to illuminate a powerful and influential social utility that can arise from cloud computing. If GovTracks.us can actually fulfill its purpose, such technology would prove to be a powerful tool for improving the democratic political system in this country.

Workshop: “Computing in the Cloud”

Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University
Introduction, Edward Felten

January 14, 2008 (11:20 AM – 12:00 PM)

On January 14-15, 2008 Princeton University’s Center for Information Technology Policy conducted a workshop on cloud computing called “Computing in the Cloud.”  The two day event was sponsored by Microsoft and brought together experts from computer science, law, politics and industry to examine social and policy implications of this emerging computer technology paradigm.  The opening lecture given by Edward Felten, the Director of the Center, provided a general introduction to cloud computing and left the audience with some thoughts and questions to think about during the course of the workshop.  Felten offered a number of different working definitions to familiarize the audience with the uncertainly surrounding what cloud computing actually means.  For him, what connects all the definitions is the theme of location.  This poses the question: why is location so important?  (i.e. if I am the average computer user, why does it matter where data is stored and processed, whether it is on my personal computer or at a remote location over the internet on a foreign server?)  The answer is possession, access and control, and in the world of computing, this means power.  Felden notes that in the digital world, control of data has stronger implications than it has in the physical world.  Finally, Felten gives a brief summary of the history of computing and how we have ended up with cloud computing today.

The issue of controlling data and having “power” in the digital world offers a great deal of food for thought.  What is the purpose of having such power?  Is it to make money, control how and what people think, what they know?  If you consider cloud computing a paradigm and we are in the process of shifting into this new paradigm (if we have not done so already), then many aspects of our daily lives could be drastically impacted.  It seems inevitable that cloud computing will soon be a popular topic for political debate because of its wide range of influence.

EC2 (Elastic Compute Cloud) is an Amazon product that is still in Beta.  Providing a true virtual computing environment, this web based service “provides resizable compute capacity in the cloud.  It is designed to make web-scale computing easier for developers.” See the description on the Amazon website for more details…

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