Why you need a house in the cloud
Yes, you can get your own house in the cloud, yes, you can get one for free, but first, lets have a look at why you’d want to.
These days we’re becoming increasingly dependent on a handful of giant corporations for much of our day-to-day activities such as communication, shopping, entertainment, community, work, play, and so on.
These corporations are eager to provide us with any number of services and facilities, seemingly for free, but of course we end up paying for them one way or another.
I’m talking about services such as email, social media, cloud drives, productivity apps, connectivity apps, news and entertainment apps, and so on.
Apart from all kinds of advertising shoved in our faces, the providers of these services use our data for their own ends, in ways we’re not even aware of.
We have no control over what they do with our data, and we have no idea how this may affect us in the long run.
But since there are currently no alternatives, we continue using these services and try to ignore the fact that the Big Brothers are watching.
There is, however, a solution, and it is actually not so complicated.
Our dependence on and willingness to accept the current way services are provided to us could be significantly reduced, if we (the ordinary people) had permanent presence on the Internet.
Let me explain.
Let’s take email as an example – unless you have your own domain name and are maintaining your own email mailbox, somebody is doing that for you (Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, etc.).
Just about every one of us has a free email account hosted by one of these tech giants.
To check our email, we have to connect to their computers via a browser or a phone app. This gives the host companies an opportunity to show us ads and sell us stuff – that’s how they get their investment back.
While we’re using their services, these companies closely monitor our behaviour, trying to figure out how to sell us even more stuff. This is fair enough – they’ve got to get their money’s worth somehow, but it’s not the only way to do business, and by far not the best one for us.
Continuing with our example of email: in theory, the host companies could analyse the content of our email, in order to figure out what stuff we might want, so they can sell it to us.
They could also do deals with other companies or governmental agencies and provide our data for various types of research for commercial, social, political and military purposes.
Of course, that’s a speculation, but if true, it would be a serious violation of privacy, and a source for a major scandal, so we trust that most of our providers don’t do it.
Well, we have to trust them, don’t we? What else can we do?
Actually, there is something we can do to reduce our reliance on these companies and their willingness to protect our rights.
In the case of our example – email, if we register a domain name and set up our own email mailbox, we won’t have to visit anyone’s website and they won’t have access to our data.
It’s the same with any other online service, including all social media services (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.), all storage services (Dropbox, Sky Drive, Google Drive, etc.), all SaaS services (Google Apps, Office 365, Amazon Web, etc.).
We are forced to use their services on their terms, through their computers and their websites, because we don’t have our own.
It’s like when you first arrive in town and want to take a shower or have some rest, you have to use a hotel and pay a premium. But if you had your own place, you wouldn’t have to.
Most of the Internet companies provide their services for ‘free’, however, while we are forced to visit their websites in order to use those services, they’ve got us by the short hairs.
The solution, like I said, is actually not so difficult, but it requires a pivot in most people’s mindset.
It requires that all of us have a ‘house in the cloud’ – our own little piece of the Internet with a permanent address, to which services can be brought to.
Let me expand on this a bit more.
In real life, services (utilities like water, electricity, gas, etc.) are brought to us, because we have a permanent point of presence – the house we live in.
We don’t have to go to the water company’s office and bring water back in buckets – the company delivers it right into our house through pipes.
In a similar way, if we have our own permanent point of presence on the Internet, all those services that we travel to other websites for can be brought to us, instead.
That way we won’t have to be exposed to any ads, and we’ll have a much greater degree of control over who can use our data and for what purpose.
Now, what is a ‘house in the cloud’, and how does one get one?
As I mentioned, the first step is to register a domain name – that’s the address where anyone can find us on the Internet. Next, we need to get some ‘land’ to go with that address.
I know this sounds weird. In real life there’s first a parcel of land, then an address is applied to it. On the Internet it’s the other way around: you first get an address, then find the ‘land’ you can apply it to.
So what is Internet ‘land’?
The short answer is: it’s units of storage space and computational power in a network of dedicated data centres (huge computer farms), which constitute the Internet.
Simple, right? 😉 This network of dedicated data centres is also known as ‘the Cloud’.
There are companies, large and small (Web Hosts), who maintain Cloud data centres, and from whom you can lease some ‘land’ for your own ‘house in the cloud’.
In real life it’s not enough to simply buy a piece of land – you’d need an actual house on that land, and in the house you’d need some equipment to facilitate the use of services – stoves, sinks, taps, light fittings, etc.
It’s the same on the Internet – once you’ve got the ‘land’, you’ll need a ‘house’ (an operating system) and some ‘equipment’ (apps) in order to use various services.
While getting the ‘land’ is relatively easy – there are many web hosting companies around, happy to lease you as much ‘land’ as you need, for a relatively small fee, the ‘house’ and ‘equipment’ are a different story.
That’s because nobody’s been making any ‘houses’ or ‘equipment’ specifically for this purpose – not really.
Oh, there’s plenty of software you could jury rig to serve as the ‘house’, and there are even some apps that could be set up as makeshift ‘equipment’, but that would require considerable technical expertise and a significant amount of time and effort to put together and maintain.
There are no ‘turn key’ solutions that ordinary people could simply use ‘out of the box’, without needing extensive experience with managing their own online software.
The current Internet giant service providers are not interested in developing such software because they are not interested in bringing their services to us.
Their entire business models are based on us going to them, and they are content to keep things as they are.
But that will change, once enough people have their own online’ houses’. Competition will force the existing providers to change their business models, or other companies will see an opportunity and enter the market – either way, it’s good news for us.
Now, I know I said that there aren’t any ‘houses’ (operating system) or ‘equipment’ (apps) made specifically for the purpose of giving ordinary users more control over their data, but that’s not entirely true.
While the ‘equipment’ part will probably take some time and requite a number of industry players to come together, the ‘house’ part is already being developed.
There is a nice pre-fabricated online ‘house’, which you can put on your own online ‘land’, and begin your journey towards being the master of your own domain (pun intended).
It’s called Dwel (short for ‘dwelling’), and you can find out more about it at https://dwel.online
While Dwel is not completely ready to go yet, there is an initial version, which is released for Beta testing.
The developers of Dwel are offering free ‘house and land’ packages (they’ll host your Dwel for you) to those adventurous souls who wish to be pioneers of online dwelling.
Dwel is designed to be fully autonomous and completely independent from any third-parties.
This allows Dwel owners to easily pack up their Dwel and move it somewhere else, if they suspect their current ‘land’ provider is up to no good, or if the rent is cheaper elsewhere.
So even as you accept the (limited) free ‘house and land’ offer from the creators of Dwel, you’re in control, and can at any time remove your Dwel from their ‘land’.
So what are you waiting for? Go on, give Dwel a try! https://dwel.online