Loving and Hating the Cloud

(originally published on my defunct Tulane blog, Texan at Tulane on January 01, 2012)

So I have a love/hate relationship with the cloud.

I love the potential. I hate the poor implementations. And when I say “poor” that means “doesn’t work the way I think it should work.” I am, as an N of 1, the expert in all things I would like.

So this morning I was trying to get a new playlist on my iPhone so I could listen to some encouraging music while I got my lazy self out to walk. And when I added a song to the playlist that was “ineligible” for iTunes Match, I got a dialog box that said the playlist could not be stored in the cloud.

“No problem” I thought. “I’ll just keep it on the phone with the other songs I sync directly.”

And then, in the dim recesses of my brain, I realized that probably meant something more significant than I realized at first glance and when I started poking around, I discovered that I could not choose what to sync any more because all the music on my iPhone was coming from iCloud. In fact, there was no music actually on the phone anymore. (or so it appears at this moment…I actually gave up and went for my walk).

So I’m currently really disenamoured of iTunes Match because I want to have the music I choose to keep _on_ the iPhone actually on the phone and not streamed AND have access to the REST of my music library via stream. If I have to choose between local or streamed access on a mobile device, I’ll pick local.

(sidebar: Of course, my friend Hunter argues with me constantly about my befuddled refusal to adopt gestures on my Mac but that’s another nattering.)

And therein lies why I hate the cloud. I want things when I want them. I’m fine with using Box for archives (and, in truth, I like being able to archive offline) but I prefer Dropbox’s implementation where the files are actually ON the computer and sync’d between the six or seven or eight computers I might be using as well as the 3 iOS devices I use. Likewise, when it works I LOVE Microsoft’s Mesh (although it hasn’t worked for me since Lion came out) and Evernote also gets this paradigm of now and cloud.

I loved the idea of iCloud producing an always sync’d word processing document without saving. (I haven’t updated yet because I like several features of MobileMe that are dying and don’t want to upgrade 3 laptops that can’t go to Lion yet). I use Gmail, Google Docs and Live@Edu and love the functionality but I want to be able to designate which things maintain local copies (without giving up the cloud functionality) and which don’t…not have the service decide for me.

Microsoft gets this. Google sort of does. Apple does not – yet. And I know I’m probably the only one who cares about it. I hate to critique Apple because for the most part, I think they’re awesome. But I really was annoyed that I spent my morning walk composing this in my head instead of listening to some fun music.