For the first time ever, I agree with something Richard Stallman says. See here. In a nutshell, he says the cloud is all about taking away your freedom and locking you into long-term contracts that you can’t get out of and which will exploit you terribly, which is why Google and others are salivating over it. He’s hit the nail on the head. The arc of this narrative — from the Original Borg (IBM) and its mainframes, to the Borg with Windows and Office, to the New Borg (Google) with its online advertising machine, its apps and search engine and phones and God knows what else. Stallman is thinking at the level of the individual, but imagine entire enterprises locked into long-term cloud contracts with service providers. Just think of all the little hooks and Velcro straps a cloud service provider can create to keep you locked in. For one thing, they’ve got your data. But think also of all the business logic, the customized apps created uniquely for you. Just look at what Facebook does to make it extremely painful for users to move. That’s a tiny taste of the cloud. The tradeoff, of course, will be that you’ll sacrifice a bit of freedom in exchange for convenience. Fair deal? Maybe. But I think Stallman is on to something here.
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