Life in the Cloud

Last week the Pew Internet in American Life Project released a report on the use of cloud computing by adults 18 and up. The Pew study describes cloud computing this way:

For everyday users of the internet and computers, cloud computing is any online activity, such as accessing data or using a software program, which can be done from different devices regardless of the on-ramp to the internet.

While 13 to 17 year olds were not surveyed for the study, the researchers did discover that younger adults, 18 to 29 year olds, were more likely to use cloud computing than older adults.’  The Pew report states:

When asked why they use the different services that store personal information on the web, users cite a range of reasons that have mostly to do with ease and flexibility. They like how such services enable them to share data with others and let them easily access their data from any computer.

It’s probably safe to assume that teens, like younger adults, also like the convenience that cloud computing provides. And, it’s probably safe to assume, that teens use cloud technologies even more than 18 to 29 year olds. Lots of libraries already provide access to the cloud to teens for web-based email, Google Docs, YouTube, Flickr, Adobe Photoshop Express, and so on.’  If your library is not providing that access, it is time to start thinking about how the cloud can become more accessible to the teens with whom you work.

Storing content in the cloud does require knowledge of what having content in that cloud means to the content creator. The Pew report found that there is concern among cloud computing users about how the host of the cloud might make use of data stored in the cloud.’  For example, the user licensing agreement for a cloud service might give the host the ability to use content for advertising campaigns, without having to check with the creator first. Or, agreeing to use a cloud service might give the host permission to analyze the user’s content in order to target ads to that user.

When providing access to the cloud for teens, it’s a good idea to find ways to talk about how content in the cloud might be used by the host.’ ‘  Talking about this doesn’t need be a way to say no don’t use it. But, the conversation can give teens the chance to make an informed choice for themselves about use of the cloud.

Cloud computing is definitely convenient and useful, I use it all the time.’  But, there are some choices (sometimes hidden choices) that come with that use. Lets give teens the opportunities to think about and discuss those choices, while providng them with the convenience and access they need.

About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President, the YALSA CE Consultant, and a learning consultant/project management coordinator at LEO: Librarians & Educators Online.
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