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With “Cloud Computing” popping up all over the place, I figured we could use an emerging tech talk on the topic. Today, 13 of us got together to discuss the topic. We started with a brief overview of what cloud computing is, talking about some services we’re all familiar with that fall into the category. We discussed some emerging uses of cloud computing and strategies for choosing services to use. We talked a bit about the privacy issues and other concerns that arise around the topic. I feel like we had a really good discussion.

I chose to highlight two services as exemplary examples of cloud computing that make life a bit easier. One is DropBox. This site allows you to store files “in the cloud” and access them from your computers or mobile devices. Your computer syncs to the DropBox server, giving you a local copy (and an automatic backup “in the cloud”). This service has been a lifesaver for me when I need access to a handout I’m making at home or when I would like to see a conference proposal that I submitted (and saved on my home computer) at work.

I also talked about Evernote. This site stores the notes you take on their server, and lets you sync to have local copies on your computer. You can organize text notes, scanned images, and photos into notebooks (aka folders). You can then do a keyword search and find any time the topic is mentioned in your notes… even if the word was just included in a photograph. I’ve had friends take pictures of the business cards they get at conferences and use Evernote to find contact information rather than an address book. This has been useful to me, for example, when I worried about a project deadline at home and could check all my project notes in my Evernote system to see the deadline was further in the future. It’s been useful at work when I’ve remembered something I need to get at the store and can just add it to the list really quickly without having to worry about remembering it for later.

If you’re interested in the rest of the topics we addressed, you can see the presentation website. If you were there and heard about Kevin Kelly’s talk (or if you’re interested in the topic in general), here it is:

Next month we’ll talk about Net Neutrality. I think of this as one of the biggest information issues of the day, so I’m really looking forward to it! Let me know if you have any specific aspects you’d like to make sure we address!