You Will Build Your Own Google

Or maybe map a genome. Or do something truly insane. All thanks to dirt-cheap cloud computing.

By Paul Ford

Illustration by Paul Windle

This is pretty nerdy and buzzwordy—but in 2015 I’m most excited about… the cloud. I know. Even if you don’t know what “the cloud” is, you know it’s been around for years and refers to hundreds of thousands of computers that anyone can rent on the internet for any purpose.

But 2015 is going to be an awesome cloud year because everything is stupidly cheap. The downward pricing pressure is intense. You can have a lot—dozens, hundreds, thousands—of little computers doing your bidding; all you need to do is come up with something interesting for them to do. Not only are computers getting very cheap (mega-powerful Linux servers for $10/month, where a few years ago they cost $100), I’m also seeing companies like Amazon launch services that basically make computers invisible; they just run your code without making you set up a “computer” to run it; you never even think about what the computer is doing. So we’re getting ever closer to this point where a big chunk of the things we do on the internet are getting super-abstract and super-free.

And that means that people can do weird things and try all sorts of stuff. Start your own Google! Your own Facebook! Launch a thousand new magazines and shut them down the next day. Run weird experiments with human genetic data. Whatever, no big deal. It’s 2015, computer cycles are a commodity, like water or power. Think big.

Paul Ford is a writer for The Message.

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