Since 2005, Google is interested in shipping data centers installed in 40” standard international containers. However, they also worked on the setup of the whole data center building composed of these containers. This video walks us through one of these actual buildings. The screenshot above is a rare documentation of an exception addressing one of the eeriest aspects of data centers: the absence of any trace of human life or moreover social life, as depicted in Timo Arnall’s Time Machine. Graffiti is however a particularly redundant trace of human activity which reaches the most hostile environments, and in this particular sense it is interesting to consider two aspects.
This system isn’t connected to the cloud. Instead, the users represent a cloud of points and this local mobile network links them together. It’s a LAN party without the cables. Anyone within range of an Occupy.here wifi router, with a web-capable smartphone or laptop, can join the network “OCCUPY.HERE,” load the locally-hosted website http://occupy.here, and use the message board to connect with other users nearby. The open source forum software offers a simple, mobile-friendly interface where users can share messages and files.
We are currently conducting a series of 10 semi-structured, open-ended interviews (based on the following interview guide. They last approximately an hour and are conducted in face-to-face or via Skype depending on the location of the participants.
In order to conduct our field study, we defined the following interview guide. It will basically address the 3 main themes below and we expect the discussion to last approximately an hour.
1. Usage of Cloud Computing
- Who are you? How do you use Cloud Computing applications (in your personal and professional activities)?
- What kinds of platforms? What reasons lead you to this choice? Did you test them before? Frequency of use? What benefits and drawbacks?
- Is this usage of the Cloud is standard among your peers/community of practice? How?
- Can you think of other practices? Peculiar approaches/ways to use Cloud Computing services?
- What are your biggest frustrations (or surprises)? In what context? Can you tell us the last time you had a major problem (or surprise)?
- Do you use Cloud Computing services with your friends/colleagues? Does it change the way you use it?
Note: the post “Soilless”, an ethnographic research presents the objectives for this workshop.
A first step in our field research approach consisted in investigating various on-line forums in which people comment/complain/discuss cloud computing services (Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.). These boards are fascinating places to observe users’ practices, and the range of topics discussed is quite broad. We quickly discovered that it could enable us to build two typologies about the main usage of cloud computing services, and the motivation of users.
We basically built a corpus of messages that we categorized and represented visually with the following diagrams. They shed some light on cloud computing main use cases, namely the practices the cloud help people undertake. We intend to use them in the upcoming workshops as a stimulus/framing/inspiration for designers.
The first workshop in the project corresponds to a preliminary field research phase devoted to understanding people’s relationship with the Cloud. Given our ambition to revisit and explore alternative personal cloud systems, we find it important to investigate actual usage, problems, limits, experiences and situations related to the pervasive use of cloud computing.
Based on a series of user interviews and observations, we will address various issues related to this theme. Our aim is to have a sample of participants which practices have a certain diversity: nomadic workers, third-space users, musicians, VJs, journalists, etc. These interviews will be complemented by an analysis of on-line forums and groups focused on the discussion of cloud-related issues (Dropbox forums, blogs and social media messages discussing the limits and problems of these platforms, etc.).