Friday, 17 December 2010

yahoo to close delicious

There are suggestions that Yahoo are to close delicious, the social bookmarking service.

I, for one, would be disappointed, as I use it to bookmark interesting items for either professional or private research.

And this neatly exposes a problem with the use of free online cloud services in the support of academia. They can go away, leaving one with a whole heap of nothing. Just as wikileaks has shown us how the cloud is not content neutral, this shows us that it is not immune from commercial pressures.

So should we stop using the cloud?

No it's too damn useful for enabling collaboration. And building our own private cloud isn't necessarily the answer - governments can (and do) cut funding as viciously as commercial organisations do.

The answer is to (a) have multiple online stores as far as is possible, and (b) to store the content in open formats as much as possible to allow content to be downloaded and reloaded as easily as possible. That way we have an escape route if a particular service dies on us, yet saves us from the risks of having everything stored on a single machine that dies on you.

Of course, if like me you're not anally retentive enough to do your own proper backups you will always be at risk. The simplest answer to this is a vendor and platform agnostic dropbox style service that copies working files between your home and office machines, and also stores them on the web, be it an academic data fabric or a commercial service such as skydrive ...

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