The Clouds (1 of 3)

Another installment of Benjamen Walker’s Theory of Everything.

Abstract. Invisible. Incomprehensible.

In many ways the cloud is just another Internet Buzz Word: Interactive, Web 2.0, Social Media, the cloud.

But we now spend most of our time living and working in the cloud, and most of us have no idea how it works, what it does, what’s different, or what it all means. This was really bringing me down.

So I decided to make a radio show.

We start off with Britt Selvitelle (Twitter employee #7). He tells us what happened when Justin Bieber joined Twitter in 2009, and how everything had changed by the time the Bieb joined Instagram in 2011. What makes these two stories different is that the popular photo sharing application Instagram built its platform using Amazon Web Services, the cloud. Matt Wood, Amazon’s principal data scientist, explains how individuals and businesses are using the cloud and how it is changing our relationship with technology.

Justin Bieber’s first tweet.

Amazon officially launched its product in 2006, but at some date in between these two events, the cloud comes into its own. The exact date doesn’t matter — what’s important is that most of us, including technologists like Britt Selvitelle, didn’t even notice.

Justin Bieber’s first Instagram post.

Harper Reed was the Chief Technology Officer for Barack Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, and he is one of the smartest technologists I know.

Harper Reed

He tells me how the campaign used Amazon Web Services and why Cloud infrastructure is awesome.

I recently saw a Cloud Ad on the subway. It wasn’t an Ad for Amazon but one of their competitors, it was kind of like the one above. It was a picture of a man climbing up a mountain with his bare hands, this man didn’t have a shirt on, and you could tell he worked out at an expensive gym, perhaps with a personal trainer. There was an iPad or a tablet tucked into the back of his shorts, apparently he was so good at climbing — he didn’t have to worry about it falling out. In the sky written in big white fluffy letters was a sentence that read: Experience the mobility and freedom of working in the cloud.

There is a lot of Hype about the cloud, the recruitment Ads for cloud companies are just as nutty as the cloud product Ads. This video though, is the best of the best:

I went to San Francisco to talk to someone who works in the cloud. I found Charity Majors. Charity works at Parse, a Back-end-as-a-Service company.

Update: A few days after I released this episode Parse got acquired by one of the biggest Clouds out there: Facebook.

When I began this project (late last November) the plan was to get a tour of the Amazon Cloud. I wanted to get inside a Data Center, see it with my own eyes. I even found the ultimate tour guide, but it was a no go. Every single company I talked with said no. But just as I was about to give up — I happened upon another way inside the cloud: through the earth!

Continue on for The Clouds Part Two.