According to CIO.com, Georgetown University Professor Mike Nelson made the remarks today at the World Future Society conference in Boston.
His comments came in the context of a discussion about the Internet, the cloud and its future. Nelson said that in the mid-1990s, the people who developed the Internet had a clear purpose. From their vision came the Web.
Today, it's a question if the focus about the Internet is as sharp as it once was. And if the focus is indeed faltering, will the cloud take its place?
The cloud is now more exciting than the Internet. What we are seeing is the evolution of the cloud as a central nervous system for a new universal communications infrastructure that is more important than the Web.
This may all seem a bit murky as much of the cloud is accessed through the Web. Cloud-based applications are often called Web apps. And the Internet is often used to describe the Web and the cloud.
But the distinction about the cloud does fall into a different category when the discussion turns to all that is capable to do with it. Nelson made the point that cloud computing means developing nations may afford software that once only more affluent countries could provide.
As we noted in another post today, the cloud also means that companies may shed its IT resources, saving on capital expenses. That may mean a loss of jobs but it's clear the upsides may be considerable as the cloud scales.
And then there is the Internet of Things (ioT), big data and a mobile universe where information is always accessible, anywhere you may be.
Nelson said forces could prevent society from getting to this universe of what he calls the "cloud of clouds."
The biggest challenges are vendor lock-in and proprietary technologies. If data gets locked in then the flow of data will be disrupted, disrupting he very nature of the cloud itself.
Other challenges include the clamp down on content by media giants, who, in the name of privacy, can have a tendency to inhibit expression and as a consequence, the free flow of information. Government may play it own part as it seeks to regulate and in turn creates an onerous environment for the development of the cloud.
We have faith that the people who have fought so hard for the open Web will continue to fight for an open cloud environment and in the process, foster that cloud of clouds that Nelson believes we can attain.