The bad side of “The Cloud”

December 15, 2010
The Cloud

The Cloud - by web@kstp.com

Since some time ago I started to worry that some “vital” information for me was on the “The Cloud” and that most of the service providers didn’t provide a way to retrieve my stuff or a support line.

I started to worry also about privacy for the first time in my life: what if companies suddenly becomes evil? Hmm. That could be bad. The “big players” are able to know everything about me: the email I read, the news I read, who are my friends, my family, my pictures….and much more! They could relate all this information to know what I like, what I dislike and so on.

Of course there are benefits. By knowing me more, they can offer better services that could be refined search, special advertisement or even make it easier to find that friend from kinder garden that I’ve never met after I was 4 (?)…

But what is the problem if they turn evil or decide that I do not deserve anymore these goods?

Some months ago I started to “migrate” at least some of my important stuff to open source and “controlled by me” services. I’m now sharing a server with one of my friends where I have my own email service for instance. I also contributed some patches to Akregator to let me share my news with my friends. I started to just use identi.ca and let Twitter “replicate” that, so my friends from Twitter get my thoughts. But in worst case I can just install Status.net on my server and voilà. I’m also looking forward ownCloud.

Yesterday and today I had the proof that I’m not (completely) paranoid (and trust me, I’m one of the last ones to be paranoid about subjects :P).

Starting from yesterday: after getting an invitation to try Diaspora (thanks Lydia!), and linking my twitter account there I discovered that my Twitter account was “suspended”. Ow great. I was supposed to get an email when this happens and there was nothing on my inbox neither on spam. I tried filling a support request and I always get the “Could not perform the task. Wait a few minutes” message.

I don’t know how but I finally received an automatic email from one of this support tickets that actually managed to be sent (all the time I tried I received an error…). I followed all the guidelines and answered the email asking for my account back. Tom pointed out that twitter had some security issues…but it has been already 24 hours that they disabled my account without sending even an email. If it wasn’t Diaspora I would never discover that it was suspended.

Today, while reading my morning news, I discover that Richard had a problem with Google and can’t solve that. He tried email, forums and everything else he could. Ah, great! He even has an Android phone that is pretty useless without a Google account. I’m sorry Rich :(

“The Cloud” is awesome, isn’t it? :) That’s why we need projects like StatusNet, Diaspora, ownCloud and Open Desktop (UPDATE: thanks to the ones that pointed out that open desktop isn’t actually open source).

11 Responses to “The bad side of “The Cloud””

  1. Might I recommend a read of Richard Stallman’s interview with “The Guardian” (UK Newspaper)? http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/blog/2010/dec/14/chrome-os-richard-stallman-warning

  2. Nice post!
    I’ve been looking for this kind of solution, but I’m facing a problem to select which company to host all these services.
    Could you indicate one, please?

  3. @Tulio: A nice one that is also not much expensive is Linode.com

  4. ..except that opendesktop.org is proprietary.

  5. Open Desktop is closed source we should work on a replacement for it imho (we = KDE community).

  6. I have hosted my servers with Rimuhosting for a couple of years, and they are very reliable and open source friendly. Not the cheapest hosting company, but if you are going to host your own email and files I recommend getting a reliable host with good support. Before them I used several others, from Iserver/viaverio to serverbeach, but I find that Rimuhosting’s support is superb and this really counts.

  7. Alternately, we could get the creator of opendesktop, who is a vice president of the e.V. board, to release his code instead of playing the needless-duplication game :)

  8. *sigh* All I really want is a self hosted solution that gives me:

    * Imap email that is conversation threaded and tagged like gmail
    * a decent online rss reader that shows full posts with embedded media
    * the ability to collaboratively edit spreadsheets
    * Easy sharing (and restricting) photos and videos
    * All FOSS self hosted

    These are my daily basics, yet they *all* seem to be extraordinarily tough in fossworld. :/

  9. Ryan:

    +1

  10. Ryan Rix I know that, but he won’t.

  11. [...] que era molt còmode tenir google reader sincronitzat amb flipboard, però de nou he xocat amb el cantó obscur del “cloud", i ja no vull acceptar la deriva cap a googlificar més el meu dia dia migrant tota la conversació [...]

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