Cloud Computing Web 2.0

Google’s & Zotero’s newest “Cloud” offerings

Google is going to be releasing, sometime this year, their GDrive application. TG Daily says:

Gdrive is basically a cloud-based storage that should have two faces: A desktop client that keeps local and online files and folders in two-directional sync via a web interface for accessing your desktop files anywhere and anytime, using any network-enabled computer. In addition, it will come tightly integrated with other Google services to enable editing of supported document types, like spreadsheets and presentations via Google Docs, email via Gmail, images via Picasa Web Albums, etc.

This opens powerful possibilities. For instance, you could start working on a spreadsheet at home and continue via Gdrive web interface accessed in an Internet cafe. When you arrive back home, changes to the spreadsheet have already trickled down from the cloud to your desktop. The idea, of course, is all but revolutionary, but Google’s execution could set it apart.

Plus a whole lot more, of course. The question is, for me, will it work as seamlessly and as beautifully as my Dropbox account? I LOVE Dropbox – I have a Dropbox folder on my laptop, my home desktop and my work desktop machines and it does an absolutely effortless job of keeping the files in that folder perfectly synched up and perfectly usable. If GDrive does that for my entire computer… I may be even more in love.
Now, this is all speculation for now – there are no official announcements from Google to back this up, and there are issues (privacy, of course, but cost and reliability guarantees and various other niggling little details) that have to be considered before folks will willingly upload the entire contents of their computer’s hard drive to a corporation’s care. If, however, the service works as well as currently existing services do *and* if Google gives some thought to privacy and practicality concerns of users, this could be an AMAZING addition to Google’s services!
Finally – before I forget – as a Public Computer Center manager, I am always looking for ways for patrons to be able to use our computers as their “home away from home” without *actually* letting them save their work, install their programs or otherwise screw with my computers. This could be a good solution – something that many of them will already have a user/pass login for (their Gmail accounts) and something that they are familiar with. Hmmm, I’m already getting ideas and making plans and the silly thing hasn’t been announced yet.
The other big announcement this week was the release of the new Zotero plugin for FireFox. This new version now includes synchronization between multiple computers – so if you find a great resource and add it to Zotero on one computer, it will sync up and be available on any other computer you have Zotero’s plugin installed to. Finally, Zotero has made it so that I can happily use it! With my reliance on 3 or 4 different computers and my heavy use of Dropbox-like applications, I just couldn’t get into a single-computer use Zotero application. Making it available on multiple computers, however, means that I’m there!

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