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The Minds of Champions

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Back in 1996, Larry Ellison of Oracle conceptualized a stripped-down network computer intended to run as a thin client on the hardware and software in servers. [A thin or lean client is a computer or application that mainly relies on another computer as a server. The other computer performs the thin client’s roles; as opposed to the fat client, which is made to perform these roles—Ed.]

The Ellison computer was ahead of its time. Today, stripped-down netbooks and tablets are designed to run mostly on servers of the World Wide Web.

Web 2.0, an interactive application hosted externally and accessible via the Internet, has gathered momentum as more individuals and companies participate in the information sharing process. It has been helped by blogging, social networking, and video sharing sites (like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and YouTube), all of which are found on the Web.

Cloud computing, hardware, and software hosted outside user premises and accessible also via the Internet (such as customer-relationship and financial management) are increasingly being used by companies for their anytime-anywhere capability.

Cloud of Certainty
Interactivity and transparency are double-edged swords. They can empower and liberate if used properly but can weaken and restrict if abused. Corrupt leaders now quake in their boots at the mere mention of social networking and microblogging. A multitude can speak with one voice in a matter of minutes. On the other hand, an upload can wreak irreparable damage.

Dark Clouds
Have you ever wondered how people in our history books or even our ancestors seem like a distant, obscure memory from faded, tattered photographs and boring, lifeless text? Can you imagine how cool it would be to see a clear video of Jose Rizal speaking about his novels and girlfriends? Or Napoleon Bonaparte reminiscing about his conquests? Film-makers and animators can recreate these events, but nothing beats the real thing.

Now, even the invisible rank and file can build the cloud version of tangible monuments through high-resolution images posted on the Web. Anyone can have their 15 minutes of fame or infamy. It can be so well documented that if you google their name, out comes a barrage of information as if the person had invented the cure for cancer.

On the home front, kids post or blog their inflammatory comments and mischievous adventures with glee and abandon. Some even come complete with pictures and videos. The problem is when their well documented shenanigans come back to haunt them and affect their being admitted into a good university or hired by a blue-chip corporation.

In a way, freedom and transparency are empowering. But they may as well limit your options and, ironically, diminish your freedom.

On the corporate front, the dust from the rubble of the 2000 dot-com bust had barely settled when the shadow of a new bubble began to emerge on the horizon. All the big players are jumping into the Web 2.0 bandwagon.

Steve Jobs entices us with Apple’s iCloud accessible via iPhone, iPads, and various other iThingamajigs. Meanwhile, Microsoft’s purchase of a fraction of Facebook and much of Skype has set a high benchmark in valuations. Too much money chases too few emerging ventures with sound business models and solid revenues. Too many high-paying tech positions search for too few thoroughbred talents, bidding up pay to new heights.

Maybe we should all start regarding the tools we use so thoughtlessly as extensions of the gray matter inside our heads.

The advice of the fictional Godfather, Don Vito Corleone, reverberates in this age of openness as he admonishes his son Sonny: “Never tell anyone outside the family what you are thinking again.”

The higher your standing and the more power you wield in the scheme of things, the more apt this counsel becomes. So embrace Web 2.0 and cloud computing. But proceed with caution and bring an umbrella.

Print ed: 09/11


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