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10 Ways Cloud is Changing the World

Aug. 14, 2015
John Hales


The cloud revolution is truly a revolution - the way we work, learn and even play is very different now than it was just 10 or 15 years and will probably be a lot more different in 10 or 15 years. With this in mind, let's look at 10 ways the cloud will (and to a large degree already has) changed the world. 


One of the most common and visible ways that the Internet affects us is in entertainment, so let’s start with how we play.

We’ll begin with audio. Almost 100 years ago, you got whatever a handful of broadcasters chose to put on the radio, and if you weren’t listening when it was broadcast, you missed it. You might have had a few records to listen to for music, but that was about it. Records got scratched, skipped and weren’t very portable. Not much changed until the 1960s with eight-track tapes, which were more portable, but by today’s standards pretty large. In the ’70s and ’80s cassette tapes became much more popular, but you couldn’t skip between songs easily and the tape would occasionally come out of the case and get wrapped around the internals of the player. Not fun! Cassettes were smaller and lighter and much more portable, but they still required a (relatively) large player, at least by today’s standards.

The next big revolution was the CD-much smaller and lighter than records, though a little larger than tapes. CDs could skip between tracks instantly and play in high definition. Things changed again in 2001 with the introduction of the iPod. It could hold thousands of songs and fit in the palm of your hand, and the battery would last for many hours. This was a huge improvement! Nevertheless, who has an iPod today? We stream music over the Internet from a variety of sources like iTunes Radio, AccuRadio, Rhapsody, Spotify or Google Music, to name just a few. CD collections have become a rarity as we can store all the music in the cloud. It’s possible to maintain an active music library of millions of songs for less than $10 a month.

Video was much the same, starting with broadcast TV in the 1930s. Reception often wasn’t good, necessitating either rabbit ears on top of the TV or an unsightly antenna on the roof. You still had to be home and watching when your TV show came on. In the 1940s, those who lived where TV reception was poor began to put big antennas on a hill and then run cable to a bunch of homes-the start of the cable TV industry. In the 1980s and ’90s, cable TV channels multiplied rapidly, providing ever more variety of programming to watch. Still you had to be watching when your show was on, unless you had a VCR, but even then you had to know how to program the thing as well as when and what channel a show was on. That changed in the 2000s with the advent of the DVR, enabling you to record the shows you wanted to watch, and with its integration with the Internet, the DVR would know what shows were playing when and on which channel. This was much simpler and a big game changer.

Today, we watch “TV” on many devices that aren’t televisions, such as tablets, phones and computers. DVDs are now stored in the cloud and can be watched from any device. Even more disruptive to the old cable TV industry is streaming movies and TV shows over the Internet using services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, to name just a few. Video can now be watched on demand, not only when broadcast. This has led to a whole new term, “cord cutters”, for those who have gotten rid of cable to watch online only and save the monthly cost of cable (now around $125 a month on average).

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