The Wizard Of Woz – Part 2
This is the concluding part to an earlier article. Now that we know what Steve Wozniak, one of the greatest technical minds of our time, had to say about cloud computing (and why he said it), let us look at the issue through several different lenses.
One is the lens of frivolity. This may be an easy way to dismiss Wozniak’s criticisms by citing the casual nature of the interaction and the range of issues covered – from public education (he once did a stint as a school teacher) to reality TV (having participated in “Dancing with the Stars”). However, considering that Wozniak had followed up his remarks with a strongly worded post within three days, this reason doesn’t hold water. Next comes the lens of personal prejudice. This is somewhat borne out by the fact that Wozniak, in his aforementioned post, cited an unpleasant personal experience to bolster his criticism of cloud computing. While there’s no denying that problems like the ones mentioned by him do exist, can it wish away the multiple benefits in performance and cost-effectiveness businesses going on the cloud are seeing? If not, doing away with cloud computing will be akin to throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Also, there’s a possibility that Wozniak, in spite of his tremendous intellect and technical prowess, is just wrong. And he will not be the first intelligent person who has failed to get the grips on new technology. If we consider cloud computing, one may recall what Oracle CEO Larry Ellison had to say about cloud computing not too long ago – “What is it? It’s complete gibberish. It’s insane. When is this idiocy going to stop?” Contrast that with he says today.
Even beyond the realm of the clouds, here are some quotes attributed to doyens of the IT industry:
“I think there is a world market for maybe five computers.” – Thomas Watson, chairman of IBM, 1943.
“There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home.” – Ken Olson, chairman and founder of Digital Equipment Corp., 1977.
And here are some quotes from beyond IT that proved to be disastrously wrong, even if they did come from reputable source:
“The Americans have need of the telephone, but we do not. We have plenty of messenger boys.” – Sir William Preece, chief engineer of the British Post Office, 1876.
“Radio has no future. Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible. X-rays will prove to be a hoax.” – Lord Kelvin, British scientist, 1899.
“While theoretically and technically television may be feasible, commercially and financially it is an impossibility.” – Lee DeForest, inventor.
The point I’m trying to make is this: advances in technology can often stump the most brilliant of minds.
Of course, now we come to the final view – Steve Wozniak is absolutely right. While I’m not averse to admitting that cloud computing does have problems, I’m not willing to think that, as Wozniak said, “the cloud sucks.” Reader comments are invited.
By Sourya Biswas
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