'Cloud' – A term entering the final days of meaningfulness

I was interested to read some of the mainstream press coverage of Google’s recent GDrive announcement. There were a number of things about this coverage that interested me, but the one that caught my eye the most was the use of the term ‘cloud’.

Jubilee BridgeFrom the BBC:

Cloud services have become hugely popular as people seek to access content from a variety of places and devices.

Dropbox helped popularise the idea of storage in the cloud, but risks being undercut by its rivals

Richard Edwards, principal analyst at research firm Ovum, said that Google was "very late" to the market but that its move could spur others.

"Facebook doesn’t have a cloud service but this may prompt it into an acquisition," he said.

Really? I’m sure that Facebook would regard everything they do as ‘cloud’. Pick any definition you like and I’m reasonably sure that Facebook would fit. (I’m also quite prepared for this to be a misquote)

In my experience most terms loose most of their meaning when they become popularised. It’s the principle of entropy again. When something is new it has very little that describes it so a new set of definitions are created. In the creation process the terms come to have form and meaning as they are honed and understood by those in the initial phases of the new thing. As the terms is used by more and more people it’s clarity dissipates much like heat.

Cloud is the term we’ve got and it’s the term that will carry on being used, but it’s meaning will be dissipated. Perhaps we’ll eventually get to replace it with the more meaningful term – utility.

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