Is cloud computing a trap?

I would have not used the same words, but I share Richard Stallman’s opinion over the ‘cloud computing’ hype.’  Whoever has dealt with Richard Stallman knows that he talks straight and direct, but he can do that because he is the original visionary. Putting your data in somebody else’s hands is not smart. It’s not smart to use software on your computer saving your own data in crippled unknown, broken, patented formats and it’s not smart to hand your data to somebody else that you cannot control in any way. RMS to The Guardian:

“One reason you should not use web applications to do your computing is that you lose control,” he said. “It’s just as bad as using a proprietary program. Do your own computing on your own computer with your copy of a freedom-respecting program. If you use a proprietary program or somebody else’s web server, you’re defenceless. You’re putty in the hands of whoever developed that software.”

Some things are just too convenient though, like Google Docs or Zoho. Being able to share and work on the same document with colleagues in different places is a very important thing. I wonder if there are similar Free Software tools that are easily installable.

The latest hype puts MobileMe (and Funambol, fwiw) into the ‘cloud’ but I don’t believe it’s the same thing as Gmail or Gdocs.’  Funambol for sure and MobileMe to my knowledge don’t store data instead of you: these services sync data that you already have locally and keep a backup in sync for you. It’s like ftp-ing your backup tgz over night to a server. You still own your data.

I think that the importance of the web services will increase in the future while importance of ‘desktop’ apps will decrease. Mainly because the desktop concept is changing, fading with increasing availability of mobile computing devices (phones, netbooks, wearable systems) that rely on the Net for retrieving data. Cloud computing is not inevitable, if you think of a computer as something that sits in a room. When it comes to mobile the ‘cloud’ is part of the system and it can be a good thing too provided that you don’t lose control. Probably using web services distributed under the Affero GPLv3 is a start.

Disclaimer: I have a gmail account that I use it only to store mailing lists that I read rarely and for all the trash subscriptions to forums I need to monitor for work or services I don’t use but I need to test once.