#EL30 Week 2 Clouds and Jupyter

For this week’s topic, the Cloud, I like Stephen’s comparison: “Computing and storage as commodities like water or electricity”, although I have not been using much personal cloud storage, and no cloud computing at all.

I first encountered the idea of a cloud when we drew pictures of our computer networks where they were based on the public packet-switching telecom services. Unlike our costly leased lines, we did not exactly know what trajectory they followed, and the telecoms emphasized that this “doesn’t matter“, either, because they would be rerouted if one part of the network was congested. So we just drew the whole network as a cloud, with short access lines entering and exiting the service.

Then later the cloud was for me the aggregate of all the services to which I had uploaded my stuff, and I enjoyed how easy I could retrieve it — not particularly that I could access it from different devices, but because it was published and therefore somewhat curated, and distributed among specialized services for bookmarks, blog posts, pictures, library items, etc. The idea that I could make my private raw files accessible from two devices, was never too exciting for me, and the notion of ‘syncing’ seems to me mostly as a confusing distraction: either I use it for the simple transfer from A to B, or for a crippled, dependent device C. That’s why my cloud storage is minimal.

Now the week’s synopsis talks about “new resources [that] allow us to redefine what we mean by concepts such as ‘textbooks’ and even ‘learning objects’”, and the presentation 481 discussed living resources such as Jupyter notebooks which reminded my of the “Try it Yourself” tutorials of W3Schools, or in particular of a great demonstration by Bret Victor.

I have long been fascinated by this idea of interactive resources that don’t just show one page at a time, but (side by side) some control or context and some effect or details — which seems promising for learning. (Disclosure: My free tool does something like this.)

Anyhow, if I can try the Jupyter notebooks right on the web, I will probably soon consume more cloud computing power.

A planet with clouds as moons.

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