Google Reader And The Proper Place For Cloud Services

GoogleReader_RIP-580-90

A blog caught my eye regarding the whole ordeal of Google cutting off Reader among other services. Some guy named Steve Poole basically said we shouldn’t claim any data that’s on a free online service as our own anyway.

In my opinion you can’t really argue much against that. If no one’s paying for the server space but the people running the servers then the data on it kinda does belong to them. I understand people store a lot of stuff on things like Dropbox, Google services, and Megaupload (well, some people paid for Megaupload), but I’ve always found it an unsafe practice to store large amounts of important data exclusively online, for the same reason I’m against cloud-exclusive computing (or gaming) of any kind.

The simple fact is that you just can’t expect services like these to be available forever. Their longevity hasn’t been tested. I myself use quite a few cloud services and store a lot of data on them, but it’s almost always copies of data that’s also sitting on my hard drive, or some kind of storage that I physically own. I don’t type my blogs right into the WordPress editor; I typed this very post in Microsoft word first and then copied it into WordPress.

I like clouds and I probably have reached a point where I need them, but I need them as a compliment to the work I have on my own system, not the system itself. I’m just as upset about Google Reader as most people — it’s the number one reason I even use my iPad every day, but I’ve already backed up my Reader subscriptions in an OPML file. I’m just mad that I might no longer be able to have a cloud keep track of which stories I’ve read across multiple devices.

By the same token, I keep copies of my drafts on Dropbox and sometimes Google Drive, but not as the exclusive tool — just as a way to conveniently access my work between devices. Basically, I don’t know why anyone would assume anything they have on a cloud service is safe.

The only thing I’m potentially worried about is the 100-plus PC games I bought on Steam but don’t have enough hard drive space to install all at once.

Heck, whenever I do uninstall a game from Steam I actually back it up on a DVD-R first. Yeah everything’s still tied to Steam’s DRM but at least I can still play the games without being online constantly, and I’m sure someone’s figured out some kind of DRM crack for Steam if the need ever arises.

Until the Google Reader thing came up I didn’t want to do a whole post on always-online DRM because my position on it is pretty simple: I flat-out can’t deal with it for singleplayer games.

It’s one of the reasons I never bought Diablo III. Actually, around the time I checked out the trial for that game I was having internet problems and couldn’t even play it all the time, despite the fact that I never had any intention of setting foot into Multipalyer. For the same reason, I haven’t touched StarCraft II.

I really don’t think we’re anywhere near ready for some kind of cloud OS where absolutely everything is on a server somewhere, including gaming, not when you’re “paying to own” the content. Maybe as a rental service, but I don’t want them telling me I own that content. This is coming from someone who is definitely all for conventional digital distribution. At the very least I want the data for my content to be stored inside my hard drive.

BULLETS:

  • Gotta admit though: on the flipside, if my house burned down or something, everything I do have on a cloud or other online service would still be there.
  • Winged Hussars come to Civ V. http://flip.it/CKg6h
  • Best illustration of “market penetration” of the year. http://bit.ly/13VoIoS
  • Baltimore Sun – The limits of rules http://flip.it/74Nvy 
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