After a long day at the office the other day, where it seems to be "all cloud all the time", I was really looking forward to just getting home and escaping the cloud hype for a few hours. As I was driving home, the radio station I was listening to referred to itself as a "cumulus station". My first reaction was, “Oh, no! Now even broadcast radio has jumped on the bandwagon! What could they possibly be doing with the cloud? And, even more importantly, why would any listener in his right mind care about the infrastructure of the radio station?"
But then I realized that they were simply announcing that they were part of the second largest radio broadcast company in the US. Oops! My mistake. Throwing my skewed point of reference at everything I see now.
But it got me thinking. What if we could take the benefits and concepts of cloud- based computing and apply them to other areas of our lives?
The basic promise and value of cloud-based computing is to provide flexible, on demand capacity in an elastic way such that you don't pay for all the capacity you need all the time - only when you need it. Over the years really smart people have figured out how to take base technology initially developed for one industry and apply it in new ways to different industries. How could you possibly live without your cell phone leveraging GPS to tell you you're only two blocks from the nearest fresh-brewed coffee shop? Digital signal processing techiques used by Apollo astronauts to take pictures of the moon are core to today's MRI and CAT scan processes. Instant coffee became a grocery store staple once astronauts started drinking it. (Okay, maybe this last example should have stayed in space.)
So, how could we benefit from "cloud" in new, revolutionary ways? Here are a few thoughts where that elastic capacity would be truly beneficial to humanity:
- It would be awesome, totally awesome, if freeways could elastically expand with additional capacity borrowed from freeway access roads during peak commute time. Or maybe just when I'm driving and in the direction I'm driving.
- Refrigerators that automatically adjust the volume between the freezer area and the refrigerator area so that just before Thanksgiving the freezer section would shrink way down so you could cram the fridge full of all the fresh ingredients, pies and other short-term perishables but then reverse the phenomenon the next day so that the freezer expands to accommodate all the left overs you need to freeze.
- Women's bathrooms expanding to borrow men's room capacity. I'm not really sure what happens in the women's restroom and why it always seems to take sooo much longer, but I'm pretty sure that automagically morphing urinals into women's toilets would make a whole lot of people happy.
There is one area of my life that seems fundamentally resistant to the concept of cloud. Has anyone else noticed that when the demand for airport security lines increases, overall capacity seems to shrink?
To weigh in, comment below! I'll begrudgingly read your thoughts. To suggest a rant - email me at firstname.lastname@example.org