There’s a fabulous grad student working with me on the logistics of the upcoming p.a.v.e. symposium on entrepreneurship and the arts. He has experience organizing festivals and events and so I trust his judgment about the value of using cloud computing to help us manage people, printing, catering, and scheduling. Using , he has created a planning calendar, a place for us to share documents, and a task list with deadlines and priorities. Although this is my first experience with Google Sites, I’ve used Google Docs before, primarily for file sharing with colleagues at ASU.
Cloud computing is an obvious and often-used means for artistic collaboration, especially when a team is geographically dispersed. But, as I recall the glitches we faced setting up our symposium sharing site, I wonder what we are giving up by putting our information “out into the ether?” One concedes a certain amount of control in doing so. In using Google Sites and Google Docs, we are putting our trust in an infrastructure that is privately owned, largely unregulated, and free. While the latter makes it a boon to struggling arts organizations that can’t invest in their own server space, the private ownership and lack of public oversight are potentially worrisome. Should the cloud – at least the ones that are put out there for all to use – be considered “common pool resources?”* Optimistically, as more and more users put their data out there, perhaps those users will develop the kind of self-governing, self-regulating institutions Elinor Ostrom describes and envisions for environmental common pool resources. On the other hand, it’s probably not a bad idea to be both skeptical and cautious, to back up our data, and to watch out for breaches of information privacy.
* (there’s an earlier post that imagines donor dollars as a common pool resource)