My friend, Thomas, recently asked me: “What kind of work do you do with cloud, and how does it make the world a better place?” Wow, what a question! Should it be part of my professional goal to make the world a better place? This was an interesting idea, especially since IBM aims to “build a Smarter Planet” and, in general, smarter is better.
By keeping my eyes open, I found a scenario that not only describes cloud’s societal benefits—and includes mobile, social and big data. Thomas is a German Catholic, and one of the most exciting events in his life was the nomination of the German Pope Benedict XVI in 2005. In the picture below, you can see a split between 2005 and 2013, when a new pope was elected. In the 2005 portion of the image, almost no mobile devices such as phones or tablets are visible. People seemed to be listening to the ceremony and were not as concerned with sharing this experience with the rest of the world.
The world changes constantly
Eight years later, in 2013, the German pope abdicated. A new pope from Argentina, Pope Francis, was elected as the church’s leader. The image above does a great job of outlining some of the technological differences between 2005 and 2013:
• Almost everybody has mobile devices in 2013.
• Almost everybody is using the mobile device to take a photo or to make a video. Some of these devices are cameras as well.
• Enormous amounts of data is often stored on these devices.
• People can use this digital information to share it with others.
What drives people today?
I went back to my friend and explained this scenario by showing him this photo. It is obvious that human behavior has changed significantly. From an efficiency standpoint, I would ask why so many people have to take a photo from almost the same angle at the same event. It would be more efficient to wait and download the professional photos, which were taken without the sea of heads between the pope and the individual photographer. This behavior highlights some interesting facts:
• People want to create something with a personal touch. It underlines their individuality (the message is: I was there at the election of the pope event and I was one of the 200,000 people participating at this event).
• People want to share this information instantly with friends.
• People want to remotely discuss these events with those who could’t attend.
Where is the cloud?
But Thomas specifically asked, “How does cloud help in all this to make a better world? I do not see any cloud.” This was a great question and the trigger I was waiting for to explain cloud and three of the driving trends that closely relate to each other:
• Mobile: As you can see in the second photo, there are a lot of mobile devices that provide the entrance to the digital world from nearly every place in the world (remotely).
• Social: People can use various apps to take photos or make videos and upload the information to a social network where they can share with their friends and followers (instantly).
• Big data: Since everybody wants to create his or her (individual) photos or videos, it creates huge amounts of data.
• Cloud: The huge amount of data has to be managed centrally so that the shared information can be accessed by and shared with everybody, everywhere in the world. Cloud is the backbone for this information management. It is comprised of the technology to store the data and provides complementary digital services to access the information in an efficient and effective way for social apps.
The crowd is watching you
Now, Thomas understands why even though the cloud is not visible for the user, it is an essential part of the Digital Age. Furthermore, he concludes that not only the people tend to change their behavior, but the usage of new technology has an impact on how anyone in the public eye will interact with others. They must take care of every movement and carefully select their words.
Before, people relied on video and photos created by a few professionals with potentially limited viewpoints. Today, thousands of people create a record of what happened at a given event. This means that those in the public eye must be more careful because the public has more access to events precisely as they happen.
And it’s not limited to those in the public eye. Even you should keep in mind the instantaneous and transparent nature of information when you interact in public or online. The cloud has enabled instant access to all of this, and while this can help create a better world—it also carries with it the need for a higher degree of personal awareness and responsibility.
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