Today was the opening day for the IPEXPO Europe which takes place in London Excel.
This was my first time at the IPEXPO and I did not know what to expect so … bear with me if I did not get the full gist of it.
The event started with a rather refreshing speech from Sir Tim Berners-Lee. I had forgotten how difficult it is to follow what he says, I guess having your brain running at the speed of light causes some problems with the coordination of the lips. You should really film him and watch him later in slow motion to get all he his saying. Literally a river of words!
I guess the most difficult part to make sense of was about how could it really be possible for big corporations to shape up the future of the web to improve our life and guarantee democracy, I am afraid I was not terribly convinced about the ethics behind the likes of HP, Google, Microsoft, VMware, etc. and how are they going to give us back control on our data and our privacy but mostly how are they going not be tempted to use that same data for things like targeted advertising.
Well, his forecast is for 2050 and … I believe in miracles and I want to believe in you Sir Tim Berners-Lee!
It was however really nice to listen to him talking about the beginning of the World Wide Web and how his boss Mike Sendall at CERN defined his proposal “Vague but exciting”. It was 25 years ago and much happened in the meantime, maybe Mike Sendall was ahead of his time and had already thought about the future we live in today where everything is vague but exciting only we chose a better way to describe it:
SERIOUSLY! Isn’t time to stop abusing that word? The Cloud? What does it mean? Really? When I first heard about it I thought it was going to be a question of a year or so and people would have rebelled to that. Years later we are still using it and the technologies that are described behind the term are as cloudy as the promises they make. Even speakers are embarrassed to use it, they might have one of those clouds on the slides they are presenting but they make their best to actually try to use a different more meaningful word for it. Some might refer to grid computing, some may talk about hosting and so on.
I think cloud was really invented to sell something that had not really been quite developed yet or maybe they thought we could not handle the complexity of what they where offering and hid it behind … well, behind something sort of foggy so that each one of us could see what they really were looking for.
YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH
And so the day went between colourful clouds and little icons moving back and forth to the clouds like little angels.
I am a system administrator at heart and a wannabe geek, back in the days what excited people was seeing a demo of something actually doing things. In the 90s seeing a GUI would give you a feel of what could be achieved with one program or another, seeing a shell … well, seeing a shell and some scripting in action would get lads howling. Now you get clouds and pretty pictures, you are told a really nice story and frankly with pretty pictures and clouds you can say anything you want without risking too much.
“Say, where do the data go after they are uploaded to that system?”
“To the cloud”
“What will the users connect to when subscribing to that service?”
“To the cloud”
“Where are my servers and how do I administer them”
“Via the cloud”
and so on …
Honestly I attended a few talks today and I could not quite understand what was that they were selling or more in general talking about. It all sounded like the c word, reduced TCO and yada, yada, yada.
Sometime I am wondering:
“Has information technology lost it?”
These mega vendors are selling us a new era of computing born out of their competition to sell products which are often rushed on the market without having reached the necessary maturity on both their design and their development and I feel as if at times we are no longer sold software, we maybe sold