EMC Lecture Series: David P. Reed

July 31, 2009


Cambridge, MA


PLEASE RSVP to Masson_Robert--at--emc--dot--com if you plan to attend.
In the 1960s, MIT launched Project MAC with a vision of human-computer symbiosis expressed through the image of a centralized, multiplexed computer resource accessed through remote teletypes. Very rapidly, this notion of a computer utility became a collaboration and social utility for its users. While not initially viewed as a primary result, the notion of a common, flexible architecture that made communal sharing of ideas and inventions incredibly easy overtook the economic arguments for sharing costs.
In this talk we argue that the idea of resource "clouds" was launched with the creation of the Internet - a flexible, interoperable communications architecture - often drawn as a "cloud" whose interior structure was immaterial to its value. Clearly this "cloud" idea worked because it moved innovation to the edges by making communications activities liquid. But the "cloud" framing has continued to evolve and to expand, leading to the emerging architectural idea that some IT suppliers call "cloud computing."
The original "computer utility" was as much focused on people and collaboration as it was on economics, however. Today more than ever, the interpersonal context matters - we live in groups, teams and crowds. To understand the future evolution of the "cloud" concept beyond today's "cloud computing," we will look at this Second Cloud's evolution toward the Third Cloud, an architectural framework whose early stages are being invented by systems researchers today. This third cloud completes the project of creating a utility for human-computer symbiosis begun in Project MAC with its eponymous timesharing system.

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