Richard Stallman has no doubt had a massive effect on the way open source, free software, and even the web has developed. But I can’t agree with his blanket statement about “cloud computing.” “It’s stupidity. It’s worse than stupidity: it’s a marketing hype campaign.”
Any thing we do with software, including stand alone applications or cloud computing needs to be considered in the same light: what rights do I have if I use it? That simple question needs to be asked no matter what software, cloud or not, you use. He even alludes to the root of the problem when he uses the term “freedom-respecting program.” That is the root of the evil after all, freedom.
For example, the article picked on Gmail. I can move my data in and out of Gmail freely, and with my own domain I can move my email to another service whenever I want. That sounds fairly free to me.
Localised software can also be used to lock people in. God, we’ve been talking about that for decades. Microsoft became a master at it.
In fact cloud computing has the potential to make our data even more “free.” For instance, rather than store multiple copies of my data on local machines, as Stallman suggests, I can store my data in the “cloud” and take it with me on multiple device as long as I have a network connection.
Now if the argument is, like Larry Ellison, that the term “cloud computing” is confused and is a “marketing hype campaign.” Then I agree. It’s in the same camp as “web 2.0.” They’re both why I get to use inverted commas so much ;).
So, the same rules apply to software in general: make sure you ask yourself what freedom you have when using any software? Can you take the data and use it elsewhere?
There are a few people in the old-guard that have exhausted their used-by-date I guess.