For 6 months, I have been reading more and more often texts polluted with this "cloud" meme.
Many among the most brilliant and salient tellers keep on talking about the magic of the cloud, how it will change everything and how good it is.

Be careful ! This is just the latest version of the famous "the network is the computer" propaganda made by Sun Microsystems and Oracle 10 years ago.

To get back on Earth, let's think about the underlined question behind the cloud : whose are computers and how many are they ?

1) In the 50s, computers were few and states'.

The first commercial computer was an UNIVAC and was sold to the US Census Bureau. Around 50 were made later and sold either to groups in states or to the biggest companies.
These had very big problems to solve and as a computer at this time was for 150 000 dollars, only big groups could afford them.

2) In the 60s, computers were few and companies'

The posterchild computer for this time was PDPs sold by DEC to more and more companies as they were for around tens of thousands dollars.
At this time yet, there were mostly one or two computers in a group but more and more persons wanted to use it.
So they had to SHARE it, that lead to persons responsible for deciding who to use it and to use it for.
A person had a screen and a keyboard to tell the group's computer to do something for him.

3) In the 70s, computers were many and companies'

Moore's law dropped the price of transistors at a point where you could make a computer cheap and small enough for companies to buy a computer for more and more employees.
An employee did not need now to share a computer.

4) Since the 80s, some computers were made a person's

The revolution of "personal" computing is less about "microprocessor" or "GUI" or "Apple" than that for the first time, a computer was "really" made a person's.
Since now, a person can decide what to do with his computer by getting software.

5) Will 2010 be like 1951 ?

Here we are : behind the cloud, there is this trend to come back to the 50s where :
There are more and more computers.
There are all in less than 10 gigantic mainframes that are companies', such as Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, eBay and...Facebook ?
A person has only a screen (to touch) ; anything else is Google's.

Some problems may be rooted in this :
The more you tell Google's, the more dependent you will be on one provider.
The more you tell, the harder it will be for you to switch to another provider.
The more many tell, the more painful it will be when there is a failure of Google.
Google will be more and more tempted to sell what it knew from you to advertisers.
There will be a day when you want to do something Google does not want : without your computer, you won't be able to do it.

6) Or will there be a personal computing new champion ?

Let's face it : Microsoft screwed the personal computer, by delivering bad updates (think V...) and forgetting his DNA to seduce corporations and advertisers, running behind Google.
The reaction to it is a belief that the best way to beat Microsoft is to come back to the 50s with mainframes.
We already know the leader of this camp, Google, a company that's morphing into the third giant in computing history, after IBM and Microsoft.
I am still waiting for a company that will move forward the personal computing revolution, sell a computer to a person, investing in P2P technology...

Will this be Apple, Nokia or someone else ?