Thursday, December 26, 2013

Using the cloud is not as complicated as it sounds

One thing that you can count on in the online world is the use of buzzwords and buzz phrases, which are nothing more than a kind of shorthand to explain a subject or a concept in just a few words. When used by people who both have a common understanding of what those words and phrases mean, it enhances communication. When only one side in a conversation understands the concept, or worse, if no one understands the concept and someone is just spewing hype, then real communication may be difficult.

One area where this has taken off in recent months is in the area of cloud computing. While definitions vary, one way to think of cloud computing is as follows. In the early days of personal computers, all your programs had to be in that computer, so if you wanted 10 computers with the same capability, that you had to have 10 sets of identical computer programs. With cloud computing, that capability is in some remote computer or remote computer network, and those 10 computers are sharing that capability.

Want another example? If you use Gmail or one of the other online email services, you are using cloud computing. You can log into your email account from any computer with a browser and an online connection. While Google is known for offering Gmail, Blogger, and other cloud-based services to the public, companies like Zoho offer business related services in the same way, allowing simultaneous access to the same resource, for example a database, from multiple locations around the world. Zoho Support is a service that comes with their cloud offerings, with the amount of support depending on the kind of service and the number of users in an account.

With cloud computing, the key things to remember if you are considering using any cloud service are the following:

  • Cloud computing is not a mysterious subject, and you are likely using it even now.
  • Cloud computing could be used to perform most functions traditionally performed on an individual computer or on private networks.
  • If someone is using cloud computing type buzzwords to convince you to spend your money, treat that person like a seller of used cars and do your own independent research before you reach any agreement.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Twitter’s Efficacy in Aiding Social Transformation

I talked last week about how Twitter makes life on the Internet easier. You can customize your allegiance to certain products, celebrities, and even people in your real-life, carbon-based social network. This week I’ll be a little more specific and talk about how Twitter makes social transformation, big and small, easier than ever before. In this article I’ll focus on how Twitter makes it easier to be funny and how in turn humor can lead to social change.

Twitter is easily translatable into the language of irony: brief, content heavy statements meant for immediate impact and in some cases prolonged relevance. For example, a particularly cogent tweet could, in another context, be a powerful bit of dialogue in a movie, comedy or otherwise. If you’re a stand up, you no longer have to “grind it out” on the underground circuit for years hoping that the big break will come your way.

There are a thousand potential George Carlin’s and Bill Cosby’s out there waiting to be heard who may not have ready access to a comedy club where they can test out material. Twitter in this case serves as the intermediary that open mics and road gigs used to be by necessity. Used effectively, one can acquire a sizable fan base through consistent activity on Twitter and other sites like it, as well through a process of shrewd and comprehensive personal branding.

I say this because it is also much easier to cultivate an audience of like-minded people than ever before. We don’t live in an age where artistic viability is judged solely on how broadly appealing one is, whether that’s in their comedy, or any art form they choose to practice. That is not to say of course that we should prevent someone from becoming the next John Lennon or James Brown, inspiring people with a timeless message while rocking super hard at the same time, but someone who is trying to make their way in the artistic or pop-cultural game no longer has to look to these monoliths as the only way to make a living and be influential.

Indeed, part of the revolutionary part of Twitter is that everyone can get up and reach an audience almost immediately. As they develop, they develop as a collective instead of in isolation. Being on Twitter, or any other active social networking site, is like the 21st century version of being at a speakeasy, coffee shop, or a hip socialist bookstore in the not-yet-gentrified part of town. You can make a tangible difference on the world without leaving your bedroom.

In short, the action required for social change can take many forms, big and small. With Twitter, and the Internet as a whole, relevant information is effectively organized and instantly accessible to all curious parties. That, combined with the human desire to connect to others, and humor’s power in not only easing social tension but also in speaking truth to power, make Twitter an ideal climate for cultivating both widespread civil disobedience and cathartic, brain-cleansing laughter in equal measure.

- Alex Curtis