In the beginning there was a huge cloud. Slowly, over aeons of time, bits of this cloud clumped together and coalesced. Then suddenly one day - poof! It got hot enough to start a nuclear reaction (and that's very hot). The Sun and the Planets appeared, and, after a bit of bashing around, they settled down into the configuration we know today, the Earth being at a very pleasant distance from the sun and at a nice temperature. Under these conditions it was inevitable(!) that life formed and eventually evolved into animals, plants and the human race.
If you look at the history of the human race, it is obvious that human beings didn't actually communicate at all for about two and a half million years. Rather a long time to just sit and stare at your neighbour. No wonder they developed stone axes and decided to hit each other with them. They must have been absolutely fed up with the sight of each other.
Eventually however, around 50,000 years ago, someone came up with the bright idea that it might be nice to talk, and language came into being. It was like a virus. Everybody was now chattering away to everybody else. The Earth, totally silent for the previous 4.5 billion years, suddenly became a noisy place.
Stories were invented, so that people could remember what had happened before. Stories turned into sagas as the amount to remember became huge. As time went on, the sagas turned into encyclopaedias and it all started to get a bit difficult to remember. On another day, the human brain suddenly crossed the next size threshold to invent WRITING. What a day that was. The only problem was this: what on earth to write on?
They tried a few things out. Sand: no problem writing on it, but words tended to get obliterated quite quickly. Rock: you could scratch this a bit, but it was hard work to get any amount of information down. Then somebody thought about animal skins. This seemed to be fine, apart from two minor problems. Firstly, the animals objected rather strenuously, so the ones chosen tended to be diminutive in size. Which meant that you either had to write very small or stitch an awful lot of skins together. The other problem was that these started to smell after a few days and then rotted shortly afterwards, once again defeating the object of the exercise.
The human brain must have hit another huge threshold about 7000 years ago, as suddenly somebody thought it would be a good idea to go and pick a few reeds and stick them together, strip off the outside and use the sticky bit in the middle. Bash it all together with a hammer, making an even stickier mess, and finally weight it all down and leave to dry. So papyrus was born, and the Egyptians loved it. At this point it seems that the capacity of the human brain started to know no bounds, and in no time at all (c 2,000 years) paper was invented. This could be written on easily, didn't disintegrate and could be copied again and again. What's more, it could be put together to make books. Libraries soon came into being, holding all the wisdom of human history. There was a minor blip when the library of Alexandria went up in flames, taking about 3/4 of the world's knowledge with it, but it didn't take long to go and work it all out again.
In the 19th Century a man called Babbage invented something called a 'Difference Engine', the world's first computer. At first computer data was saved on paper, but this method required a lot of trees, took up masses of storage space, and nobody ever got round to reading it anyway. So somebody invented paper tape. Not a great advance, as this was even more difficult to read than print-out, but you could at least feed it back into your computer. After that came reel-to-reel tapes. Marvellous. Now you could retrieve any information you wanted. You just had to remember which tape it was on, and hope that the machine operators weren't on a coffee break.
Finally we move into the 21st Century. Somebody has invented a way of storing data in a cloud. Just look up above you and you can see what a great advance this is. In the UK there is certainly plenty of storage space. This is the future! Unlimited Online document storage, up there in the clouds. Your plans are safely stored in a nice big cloud hanging over Manchester. You will never lose that data; there is always a cloud over Manchester.
There are more clouds on Earth than anybody can possibly use, but if we do ever run out of them, look up into the heavens. Venus is covered in them, and Jupiter, with a surface area over 120 times that of Earth, is an inexhaustible supply. Is there another technological advance beyond Cloud Computing? Maybe so, but it isn't needed just yet. There is plenty of cloud space to store all the world's knowledge for many hundreds of years to come. So we can all live happily ever after, safe in the knowledge that it is all secure, accessible, and constantly backed up.
Charlotte Mooney is an IT professional with many years experience, currently working for International IT Software Consultancy Proswift, specialising in the Webforum online Document Management and online Project Planning Service. If this story strikes a chord with you, click one of the links above and check out what Webforum could do for you and your business.