Making the Cloud Personal

Getting Used To Things

Cloud computing changed everything, but not because everything is in the cloud.

Instead, when it comes to handling content, it’s now that we always have to think about whether we should do something in the Cloud, before we make a final decision about where we’ll do it.

Obviously, the jury is “IN” about where to make social use of content.  And the very reason why we keep thinking social media whenever we think of social networking is because the networking is mainly about content.

Basically, most of us actually learned how to make networked social use of content in the cloud, so it seems perfectly normal there. Many of us already knew how to carry on networked social use, but when it was not in the cloud there were only a tiny percentage of us all who already knew and did it. Clubs, parties, swapmeets and auctions were pretty helpful for those who had the time, the contacts and also the content.

But we know that cloud computing made it simple and even ordinary for most people with a web connection to take up networked social use as much of their free time as they liked. Being in the cloud has surely posed some interesting trade-offs between being “connected” and being “secure” but hardly anyone wants cloud-based use of content for social purposes to go away or even noticeably decrease.


A Place To Produce

Lagging far behind, for individuals, is a similar ordinariness, when it comes to cloud-based use of content for productivity purposes. Although a few generations of corporate workers are familiar with the environment of intranets and company applications, the “extranet” called the Web has not been seen as a good default option for much personal productivity.

The jury is about to come in about the productivity use of content on the web.

To be clear, productivity content itself has been on the web for a couple of decades, in the form of reference material that could be researched and accessed there. But the next key piece – personal applications that run entirely on the web, have mainly been about communications. Email, of course, is the granddaddy of these, and forums have been available since day one.

Now that we’re fully accustomed to keeping our own things on the web, using them where we keep them is beginning to enjoy an expanded comfort zone. Being social is not the only obvious personal thing to do in the cloud. Being productive is more and more what we think should be normal there, too.

For most people, being productive is what happens when they shop online. The activity of finding items online and bringing them together for a delivery is already hugely familiar to most web users. Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) means that many different kinds of procedures can similarly be started, run and completed on the web without the need for the user to get anything or keep anything elsewhere.

Similarly, online applications that let users collect images, music and video – then replay them or share them on demand – have already familiarized us with working productively in the cloud.

By analogy, any “store” of content for future reference can be used now by a SaaS app in the customer’s hands.


Working With The Cloud

Productivity content is the content that we rely on to support our requirements for producing needed results from work.

Social content – the material we actively use to exercise our social relationships – may outnumber productivity content by quite a lot.

But common productivity content for personal use includes nearly all reference documents or information stored in media formats such as video, images, and audio files. Indeed, electronic or digital documents are themselves another form of media. Productivity content is any of this media that is used as reference material for research, instruction, proof, demonstration, explanation, description, or other kind of support of tasks.

And what we’re talking about is that it now makes sense for productivity content to usually be online – not just in storage locations that we can reach online, but in workspace that we have and reach online.

The online workspace that lets us handle productivity content with the same ease as social content is Software-as-a Service (SaaS). We actually run software on the web and use the software for production purposes that include managing the availability, movement and maintenance of the content for the party that needs to use it.

Content catalogs are among the more obvious things to start building out as the next normal for productivity purposes, because catalogs let us take much better advantage of the stores of content that are online. With catalogs, we more efficiently and effectively find what we are looking for according to why and when we need it.


The Next Normal – Personal Content Clouds

Just as social networking has quickly evolved into a certain nearly standardized collection of “features”, many of the most useful patterns of task productivity are already known and most useful without needing customization or much variation. The net effect is that when most people have the same way of doing something, a single appropriate support mechanism is most likely to be used and alternatives are far less necessary.

Likewise, most online personal shopping is pretty similar. In fact, most online personal content collecting is similar. But what will really take personal content usage to online workspace as the default is a combination of how personal content is tracked and how personal usage is guided so that successfully guiding most people through collections of personal content requires only a few variations of features across the tools that help get it done.

For most people, this next normal begins by starting with using their own reference content primarily online. What will become common and widespread is a workspace for cataloging the content, and a comfort level with keeping the content in that workspace.