Making the Cloud Invisible
A survey conducted by Citrix back in August found that a lot of people don't have a clue what the cloud is.
A few years ago, I remember reading about a survey which asked if people used RSS. Most people answered No because they didn't know what it was, but the fact was they were using services that took advantage of RSS and just didn't know it. The same appears to be true for the cloud, which is growing increasingly invisible to users -- and that's fine.
I love telling the story of my Dad's elderly neighbor who upon hearing that I was a technology journalist pulled me aside and asked, "Just what the heck is cloud computing anyway?" Apparently, you don't have to be an octogenarian to wonder this. The Citrix survey, which involved 1000 Americans, found just 16 percent could define cloud computing "as a computer network to store, access and share data from Internet-connected devices." Some people believed it to be toilet paper, while most believed it to be an actual cloud in the sky as in the fluffy white things.
Yet for their utter lack of understanding of the term and how to define it, the survey found that most people are using the cloud, whether they know it or not (much like those folks in the RSS survey). More than half claimed to have never used the cloud, yet when asked about specific services, it turned out 95 percent actually did use the cloud for such services as online banking, photo sharing, file storage and so forth. They just didn't know it was the cloud.
According to a recent All Things Digital Article aptly titled Nobody Goes Online Anymore, a Forrester report found that when asked about Internet use many people answered they were using the Internet less than in the past, but survey designers at Forrester speculate that this was because people using always-connected devices like smartphones didn't have to explicitly "go online" because the services were always on.
A few weeks ago, Brian Katz wrote a post called Disappearing Apps. His point was that you need to develop apps that are so well designed, the user forgets about the app because they are so caught up in it.
And if the cloud and the Internet, and perhaps the best designed apps are becoming so ubiquitous that people don't realize what they are using them, so much the better. The goal shouldn't be to get a majority of people to understand the industry buzz words, it should be to create applications and services that are so good, it doesn't matter what we call them. They just work and it's great.
Photo by kei51 on Flickr. Used under Creative Commons License.
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