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#3 Computing in the Cloud

2009 August 3
by naomi

If you regularly use the Web, then you have probably already been computing in the cloud through your use of common cloud/Web-based applications such as Gmail, Hotmail, Flickr, Facebook, and Google Docs.

Although the term “cloud computing” has recently become a big media buzzword, the concept has been around for quite some time. In his “Cloud Computing for the Masses” article, Greg Cruey provides this definition: “The concept of cloud computing is one of a user sitting at a terminal taking advantage of services, storage space, and resources provided somewhere else – on another computer, through an Internet connection.”

For this two-stepping method, we’d like you to explore not only the general concept of cloud computing, but also that of cloud computing applications and cloud computing as it relates to libraries.

Discovery Exercise:

  1. Explore some cloud-based productivity tools (think word processing, spreadsheets) by logging in and playing with one but preferably both of these popular cloud-based application suites:
    • Google Docs (and, while you’re logged in to Google, why not explore some of the other Google applications that are available?)
    • Zoho (note: you can log into Zoho with your Google account information, saving you from having to create a separate Zoho account)
  2. Read Greg Cruey’s “Cloud computing for the masses” article (if you haven’t already) — although written in 2008, it still offers an explanation of cloud computing that is very easy to understand.
  3. Read Michael Stephens’ Tame the Web blog post: “How can libraries use the cloud?
  4. Read Jenny Levine’s The Shifted Librarian blog post: “We’re Not All Ready for the Cloud Yet” — again, although written in 2009, the points raised about cloud computing are still valid today.
  5. Share your impressions and thoughts regarding online productivity tools and cloud computing by posting to your blog. (Please include “Method 3” in the title of your blog post.) Some jumping off points for your blog post might be: How do you feel about these tools and concepts? Do you see great benefits for use in libraries? Overall, would you say that you are more excited or more cautious/skeptical about cloud computing?

Finished learning this Two-Stepping Method? When you’re ready, move on to Method 4.

12 Responses leave one →
  1. October 4, 2009

    I am not sure if I am ready for the cloud but I certainly like what I have seen in Google Docs. I think it would be wonderful to produce, edit, save, access and share anywhere in the world just by having access to the Internet.
    I believe that one of the best functions is the ability to do a group project and everyone having the capability to edit the document altogether.
    I am very excited about the new programs I am being intorduced too.

  2. October 6, 2009

    Hey Wade, thanks for your comments. Google Docs is great and I’m currently in love with and all its many apps that are very comparable to Microsoft Office products.

    I’ve recently tried out Zoho Show in earnest -it’s a presentation application that has some neat looking templates and works very much like Powerpoint (though doesn’t have as many bells and whistles and animation features – yet!).

    You can even import Powerpoint presentations and store them all in Zoho so they are accessible anywhere you have an internet connection. You can also export a Zoho show as a Powerpoint or as a pdf for compression.

    There’s some minimal fussing with formatting text boxes/spacing that you have to do in your exported PPT version from Zoho Show, but the convenience of having it anywhere is worth it.

    Try it out sometime!

  3. October 11, 2009

    I like the concept of Cloud computing. I use Google Docs for my vitae and have tried Zoho, but all the information is kept private.

    In working with groups this is a great resource, but leaving a “library” group is still a little unnerving.

  4. October 15, 2009

    NIST recently revised their definition of Cloud Computing. Excellent technical details here:

  5. Tina Billman permalink
    November 29, 2009

    My tech emailed me that I should be able to access Google Docs at work.
    Lets hope so. My clerk and I are sharing a huge spreadsheet of data on all students on campus. Right now, it is on his computer, so I need to make all changes on his station. We also share it with the campus teachers. Using Google Docs, we could both make changes and allow all teachers to see (but not change) it.

  6. December 16, 2009

    I didn’t even realize ZOHO existed, much less contained so many applications! Thank you so much for the information.

  7. December 31, 2009

    This article is great. I even took the time to go through the presentation and learned a lot! I’m glad that the major issues like security are covered. It’s exciting to think about all the prospects, but proceeding with caution is the name of the a game for me.

    I prefer Zoho to Google docs, now. I’ve tried docs, excel & shows for PP presentations. Google docs was a little corrupt and doesn’t offer all of the Word tools. Zoho has more.

  8. Demetria Williams permalink
    January 21, 2010

    I found step #3 to be very informative. I read all of the blogs and the article and I will read some more about cloud computing before I will use it for personal use. In my District, librarians are encouraged to use Google documents to write and publish previews for library books. I use this as my introduction to cloud computing, but I will monitor the various tech and librarian journals about the topic of cloud computing and the library.

  9. Kathie permalink
    February 1, 2010

    Everything old is new again. I began working with computers in the age of dumb terminals. Nothing was stored on ‘my computer’, it was on a server owned by the college or for our library catalog, one owned by the consortium. Today, the data is still stored elsewhere, it is just the terminal is no longer dumb.

    But, really, this idea of ‘cloud computing’ is exciting. In the day of those dumb terminals, you needed to be ‘on site’ to access that server. Then, as life progressed, the ability to access that server from off site, via a computer, became a reality. Now, we don’t (in most cases) even know where that server is. And these capacities of these servers is mind boggling.

    I just hope I can keep up with the changes in technology. With the help of this course, I certainly will do my best.

  10. Fran permalink
    April 20, 2011

    Like Jenny Levine, I am hesitant to encourage patrons to create accounts with each “latest, greatest” web 2.0 toy without explaining and instructing them on the use and ramifications of cloud computing. I am concerned that students will not heed our warnings and publicize information harmful to themselves or others. One thing I really like about Glogster is the ability for the teacher to create an account and then add student accounts under her master account. The students are not providing any personal information and can remain completely anonymous if desired.

  11. naomi permalink
    May 17, 2011

    Thanks for sharing that about Glogster – I hope we start to see that option in more tools/applications so that educators can maximize their benefit without compromising the privacy of their students, regardless of the students’ age! 🙂

  12. May 26, 2011

    I love the concept of production tools available without being tied down to a licensed and expensively purchased suite of software. I am not tied to my computer at work or home. The ability to access, edit, plan, expedite and implement whatever I’m working on from wherever I am makes me positively giddy.
    Melissa Booker
    Kirbyville Public Library
    Kirbyville Texas

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