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It's Raining in the Cloud

I walked into the basement the other day and saw a shoe box in a corner. When I opened it, I found dozens of old photographs from when I was very young. It was good to reminisce, and emotional to view a small segment of my past, but it also made me wonder about the future.

In this day and age, we no longer put our belongings in shoe boxes, or anywhere else in the basement. Instead we seem to store everything on hard drives, thumb drives, CD’s or more recently, in the cloud.

This made me think about what happens when I’m no longer part of the planet. Up until this generation, all of our memories have been physical and tangible and, although we may not access them often, we know we are always able to.

Since the introduction of the cloud, this is no longer the case. I have a website with hundreds of articles, which I’ve written, electronic copies of my books, and thousands of photographs, all of which I hold dear. It is of course encrypted and protected by a password, but should I fail to pay my annual $99 fee,, my entire life will disappear.

There is no backup, as there’s too much information to store locally, so every little bit of creativity which I have generated, is floating in cyberspace and at the mercy of the powers that be.

When the cloud storage was first introduced, it was revolutionary and a fantastic opportunity to store information off site. As with any new invention there were bugs, and this was certainly the case with cyberspace. A friend of mine had migrated all of his photos to a cloud-based program, and was quite proud of his accomplishment.

Fortunately I held off joining him, and about six months ago he received an e-mail from the storage company, saying they were going out of business and he had 24 hours to retrieve his images. Unfortunately there were many gigabytes of data, and it was impossible to retrieve everything in that short amount of time.

Needless to say he was devastated, because he was also a photographer, and had no physical backup of his photos. Fortunately, for the rest of us, we can learn from this, and although I use the cloud for storage, I do keep a backup. Actually I keep several backups, including a hard drive off site.

One day, in the not too distant future, everything we have electronically will be stored in cyberspace. If you look at all the photographs, articles, pieces of data and detailed information about ourselves on social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram etc., you will see that we’re already storing hundreds of gigabytes of personal information on large, corporate servers.

As security improves and dependability becomes a non-issue, we will be storing everything we have in the invisible world of cyberspace. My next question is, what happens when we are gone, without sharing our passwords? It is extremely difficult to convince Facebook that a person has passed away, and if you are successful in doing so, all Facebook will do is delete the account… along with all the memories stored there.

Your children and grandchildren may remember bits and pieces of your life; however, to most anyone else you will be little more than a remnant of cyber dust.

I think it’s time to print some of my photos and articles, and place them along with my books into that shoe box in the basement. Hopefully long after I’m gone, someone will stumble on it and smile, although they will probably be stumped and unsure of what print media is or was.

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