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Phillip Kwik's Blog

Cloud computing is an emerging technology in which data – documents, email messages, photographs, etc. – and applications – word processing and spreadsheets, for instance – are stored in cyberspace and not on an individual’s computer. So if you use a web-based email, like Yahoo, Gmail, or Hotmail, or an on-line photo service like Flickr, or a video-posting site like Youtube, you are using cloud computing.

According to a recent study by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 69% of Americans who are on-line use “cloud computing,” even though most of them don’t know what the term means.

Cloud computing is an emerging technology in which data – documents, email messages, photographs, etc. – and applications – word processing and spreadsheets, for instance – are stored in cyberspace and not on an individual’s computer.

So if you use a web-based email, like Yahoo, Gmail, or Hotmail, or an on-line photo service like Flickr, or a video-posting site like Youtube, you are using cloud computing.

Web-based email is the most common form of cloud computing. Fifty-six percent of computer users access such services. Nearly 40% of computer users store personal photos or videos on-line. And nearly 30% use on-line application software, like Google Documents.

Why is cloud computing so popular? According to Pew: “Convenience and flexibility.”

Cloud computing allows you to access your data from any on-line computer, not just your own. You don’t need to have a lot of storage space for all of your large files. It is easier to share and collaborate on projects when the data is on-line. And you don’t have to carry around floppy disks, CDs, or USB flash drives, when moving between computers.

The downside is, as the Pew study points out, computer users are concerned that their data might be access by the companies that store the information, for marketing or other purposes.

Nevertheless, that concern has not stopped more and more Americans from enjoying the ease and mobility of cloud computing. And as information becomes even more on-demand and mobile, cloud computing is likely to grow.

To view the entire Pew report, go to Use of Cloud Computing Applications and Services.

About Phillip Kwik
Phillip Kwik is the head of the 15-member Technology Department at the Troy (Michigan) Public Library. The Department staffs the Library’s Technology Center, which services 100,000 computer users a year. In addition, the Department runs a full schedule of classes for the public, including Computer Basics I and II; Beginning and Intermediate Word, Excel, and PowerPoint; Navigating the Internet; Buying and Selling on Ebay; Blogging for Beginners; and Library 2.0. Phillip blogs at tpltechnology.blogspot.com.

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