I'm going to over simplify this little rant because I was never a real techie and so my basic understanding of things was and is "basic". Back in the dark ages when I began in the consulting business our clients used dumb terminals networked (read plugged in with a really long cord) to a mainframe somewhere. The data bases and applications resided on the mainframes - your dumb terminal was just a way to get to them and work in them. You didn't have a computer at home - I mean why would you? They were for work related activities and cords to the mainframe weren't going to reach to your house anyway.
I'll skip over all the intervening steps but eventually we moved from there to desktop word processing and spreadsheets and then to where we mostly are today - powerful personal computers, roaming laptops, wireless devices - all with applications and databases in our control and in our possession. We access what we need or want when we need it or want it but the core of what we do is there in our hands.
Sometimes we use things like Second Life and there's a debate between server side and client side and where what should reside. Integrating the two and worrying about performance is a pain, but we live with it.
One of the things that has happened as a result of the evolution of personal computing is that much of our lives is on our hard drives. We store everything on there and comfort ourselves with the thought that nobody else will see it - it belongs to us and we have possession as well as ownership.
I read an article today which starts off with the following:
In early December, Google sent out thousands of free laptops as part of a program to test Chrome OS, an operating system that relies on the Internet for all its software applications. Computers running Chrome OS don't let users download data or install applications. Instead, everything happens in the cloud. So the laptop—called the CR-48—needs very little storage space, but it requires a constant Internet connection, and it has 3G wireless connectivity built in.
The design of Chrome OS changes such fundamental things as where a user's data resides and how it is managed. It also gives Google access to an unprecedented amount of user data. The company hasn't said how it will use this information, but some clues can be found in the company's previous products and in the rights it has reserved in the Chrome OS terms of service.
Now I don't see in that little bit where maybe the Google PTB's think that this is a secondary device - something you'd have in addition to your other existing equipment. Maybe it is, but I doubt it.
This really takes me back to my early days on a dumb terminal. The big difference of course is that in those days the data sitting on the Company's mainframe belonged to the Company. These days that data on my hard drive is mine and there's no way in hell I'm putting all my data in Google's hands.
I haven't been too exercised about cloud computing til now - it's just a new word for what used to be (albeit with much better technology) and I figured you'd have some mixture of the architectures active based on what you were doing. But this Google vision of the near future is not one I'm willing to buy into. If that makes me a Luddite so be it.