Talking Cloud in the Big Apple

Oracle held CloudWorld yesterday in New York City. You didn’t have to look far to see how important the cloud is to everyday life. It’s Spring Break for many schools across the U.S., and teens and tweens flocked to the Big Apple with their parents. It was hard to not to run into one of these young tourists, as they all seemed to be walking and using a smartphone at the same time. I wonder if they were all thinking, “Wow, the cloud makes it possible for me to be social and mobile at the same time!” Probably not.

At CloudWorld, Clay Shirky delivered compelling insights about how technology affects behavior and society. He pointed out that social media changes things when it makes formerly impossible problems trivial. And, innovation actually comes from the edges, as was the case with accountants driving the need to move away from mainframes to PCs and road warriors driving the need for laptops.

Shirky went on to say that real change comes when people figure out how to take platforms and do things differently. A perfect modern example of such change is Stack Overflow. Stack Overflow describes itself as a “question and answer site for professional and enthusiast programmers.” By combining social communities, gamification, and cloud technology, Stack Overflow is now preferred by techies over technical documentation from software vendors. Programmers that used to struggle to get answers now resolve their issues faster and easier with access to developer expertise around the world and an incentive system to keep developers engaged in the community. A great reminder that it’s not the technology itself that drives change, it’s what you do with it.

As for the excited young tourists in New York City, let’s hope change and innovation comes in the form of an app that reminds you to look up from your smartphone periodically. Whether it’s to make sure you don’t miss an important landmark, or you don’t step into traffic!

CloudWorld continues through next month in Tokyo, Mexico City, London and Munich. Check the schedule to register for one of these cities near you.

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