Friday, April 1, 2011

The Good Cloud (And Why It Matters More Than What You Think It Is)

If people were primed to think about height, researchers wondered, might people be more virtuous? Recent study shows it does and might also explain why the cloud in cloud computing would be a perfect metaphor as vehicle for social change.

There's quite a lot of talk nowadays of bunking and debunking the role of IT as change catalyst. On one side, we've got plenty who argue about the power new tech tools particularly social media has afforded us. One can look at how it has affected the concepts of power and authority, from the workplace to the fate of countries in light of what is happening in the Middle East. Then there are those who argue that IT tools are over-hyped, that social revolutions will happen with or without these tools.

And what about the cloud? For those in IT, it has moved past from just a meteorological term to what is undoubtedly, a meme for a sweeping technological phenomenon tied up with things that are "web service delivery-enabled" and even social media. Would any term, other than cloud capture this wave of disruption?

Interesting how a recent research again shows the power of metaphors to shape our thinking particularly the effect of 'heights'. In a series of studies - involving escalators, auditorium stage and film clips of scenes taken from an airplane above the clouds, or through the window of a passenger car, it is quite surprising to note that participants exhibited:

"remarkable consistency, linking height and di
fferent prosocial behaviors -- i.e., donations, volunteering, compassion, and cooperation. While we may be inclined to think that our behaviors are the product of comprehensive thought processes, carefully weighing the pros and cons of alternatives, these results clearly show that this is not always the case."

Again we ask, would any other term beside cloud be as highly adopted to describe this form of computing? Common sense says this might be irrelevant - miniscule compared to the importance of understanding how it works and the resulting value.

Yet, it does seem that not only does the cloud represent innovation and disruption but many other good things that has meanings that are more personal - small aspects of our psyche we often take for granted but collectively can be such a force for good.

As this study shows, little things matter and in this case, as in most of life, the effect of metaphors often loom large.

Posted via email from friarminor's posterous