love the cloud, fear the cloud

I had two interesting experiences with clouds yesterday–as in those spaces on the Internet where you can access software as a service (SaaS) and store files, for example.

I sync my Outlook calendar (Entourage, really, on my Mac) with my Mac iCalendar and then with my Google calendar, so that I can always see what I should be doing when I don’t have access to the school network. In addition, it allows me to embed my Google calendar on my personal web page, so others can see where I am. All my information and the syncing process works through my account on Mobile Me, an Apple service that provides email, calendar, and storage.

Well, something went wrong yesterday, meaning I did something wrong. Wasn’t paying attention. Said yes when I should have said no. In an instant, all my calendars were empty, and I realized how much I depend on them to guide my work and schedule. I had some frightful moments, until I realized I had published my iCal as a web page for sharing and that it still existed, but I didn’t know for how long. So I subscribed to it and then went about fixing everything in a backwards fashion. So, yesterday, was clearly an example of the love/hate relationship with one cloud in my sky.

Later, there was a flurry of discontent on every social network about Facebook’s new terms of service which spelled out what seemed to be a right to everyone’s posted material, such as photos and videos, forever. Here’s how Mark Zuckerberg explained the situation, and let’s see if he objects to my using the photo he uses on Facebook:

Our philosophy is that people own their information and control who they share it with. When a person shares information on Facebook, they first need to grant Facebook a license to use that information so that we can show it to the other people they’ve asked us to share it with. Without this license, we couldn’t help people share that information.

One of the questions about our new terms of use is whether Facebook can use this information forever. When a person shares something like a message with a friend, two copies of that information are created—one in the person’s sent messages box and the other in their friend’s inbox. Even if the person deactivates their account, their friend still has a copy of that message. We think this is the right way for Facebook to work, and it is consistent with how other services like email work. One of the reasons we updated our terms was to make this more clear. Read the rest . . . .

As I noted on Twitter yesterday before this was posted, to quote myself, “I sorta figure when I post any content that I am tacitly agreeing to share it with anyone who can right-click–what’s the FB difference?” So, it didn’t come as a surprise to me that Facebook made clear that it was one of anyone. Some people were talking about how to delete your entire Facebook account, but in social networking, aren’t we making the first step of trusting the network itself? Sure, there are ways to work safely, to be selective in the information you share, but if you fear the software/application/site/etc. you are paralyzed. I’m not worried about my content on Facebook, but I can tell you that I do not share everything. I am not playing the 8, 16, 20 or whatever number things-you-don’t-know-about-me game that’s going around. Let’s leave some things unknown and still socialize for our own reasons.

P.S I could have posted any number of page images from Facebook to illustrate my post, but decided on the Tri-C libraries fan page, in case you didn’t know about it and wanted to be a fan.

Update 2/18/09: Facebook reconsiders its TOS, reverting to the old TOS in the meantime:

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Categories: cloud computing, communication, computers, social network, Web 2.0

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