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GDrive is dead! Long live Google Drive!
April 24, 2012 10:48 AM   Subscribe

Today, Google launched Google Drive, their long-awaited cloud storage solution. Although it's seen by many as a direct answer to Dropbox, iCloud, and Skydrive, it also offers a few novel features of its own: integration with most Google web services, like Gmail, Docs, and Picasa. And perhaps most notably in the long run, it launched with an API encouraging third-party integration. 18 apps in the Chrome Web Store already implement Drive.
posted by gilrain (152 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
As usual for a topic like this, Hacker News has a bustling thread that's worth a read for those interested.
posted by gilrain at 10:49 AM on April 24, 2012


TBH I'm sort of surprised they didn't have something like this already, I just sort of assumed they would as everyone else does.
posted by Artw at 10:52 AM on April 24, 2012


Artw: TBH I'm sort of surprised they didn't have something like this already, I just sort of assumed they would as everyone else does.

They had worked something up internally, called GDrive, back in... 2007, I think? A high-level Googler lobbied to ditch the project, apparently because "files are dead". This was covered in a book about Google, a while back. Obviously, in hindsight, a big mistake. Interestingly... the guy who wrote the launch blog post? That was the main guy against GDrive. Whoops!
posted by gilrain at 10:54 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not comfortable with putting all of my files on Google Drive, but I'm okay with putting some of them there. I also believe the competition between Skydrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, and iCloud will be good for the consumer.

That said, I wonder how long before the guys at Dropbox regret not cashing out when they had the chance?
posted by entropicamericana at 10:56 AM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


1) not everyone can use it yet (it tells me my drive isnt ready yet)
2) no linux fs driver..

sticking to dropbox for the time being
posted by 3mendo at 10:58 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Interesting! They talk about hosting photos for Google+ , but I'd be much more interested in doing it for Blogger.
posted by Kevin Street at 10:59 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I use Google Docs - thid Drive thing is more like an extension of Docs than a new product - on a daily basis and its usability issues and lack of functionality makes me wish Google put more effort on getting the basics right before introducing this file sharing / market place (we have another Google market place now?) on steroids.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 11:00 AM on April 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


None of this is particularly novel to developers who are familiar with this technology. Amazon S3, for one, has had an API, SDKs etc. available for several years. It's great that Google is slowly catching up in the cloud space, but they aren't really offering much that other vendors have already been doing for years now.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:00 AM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Google's got enough of my stuff as it is. I'll stick with Dropbox until they get acquired.
posted by tommasz at 11:01 AM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


1) not everyone can use it yet (it tells me my drive isnt ready yet)
2) no linux fs driver..

sticking to dropbox for the time being


Man, this comment is like vintage Slashdot. I'm actually getting a little nostalgic.
posted by theodolite at 11:01 AM on April 24, 2012 [14 favorites]


A light-hearted response.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 11:01 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, how will this differ from Megaupload in how it's used?
posted by Obscure Reference at 11:02 AM on April 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


3mendo: 1) not everyone can use it yet (it tells me my drive isnt ready yet)

Are you using Google Apps? I believe everyone with a normal Google account should have access. Google Apps is coming soon, or immediately if you join their rapid release track for your domain.

I did join up and try it before posting. It seems to be working about as well as my Dropbox account, for what I've tried so far.
posted by gilrain at 11:03 AM on April 24, 2012


I use Google Docs - thid Drive thing is more like an extension of Docs than a new product - on a daily basis and its usability issues and lack of functionality makes me wish Google put more effort on getting the basics right before introducing this file sharing / market place (we have another Google market place now?) on steroids.

A common problem with the big G. They're always chasing the new thing, and aren't as interested in refining past acquisitions.
posted by Kevin Street at 11:04 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I just spent the last six months eliminating Google from as much as my life as possible, and now the offer 100GB for $5 a month? Grrr...

I will stick with my combination of Dropbox, Amazon S3, and Ubuntu One for now, with the hope that Ubuntu One is forced to match the price.
posted by COD at 11:05 AM on April 24, 2012


Man.. This is a HUGE increase (twofold, at least, for most sizes) in prices for anyone already paying for extra storage (prices via):

Old Pricing structure (prices are yearly)
20 GB - $5
80 GB - $20
200 GB - $50
400 GB - $100
1 TB - $256
2 TB - $512
4 TB - $1024
8 TB - $2048
16 TB - $4096

New Pricing structure (prices are monthly) [yearly price in brackets]
25 GB - $2.49 [$29.88]
100 GB - $4.99 [$59.88]
200 GB - $9.99 [$119.88]
400 GB - $19.99 [$239.88]
1 TB - $49.99 [$599.88]
2 TB - $99.99 [$1,199.88]
4 TB - $199.99 [$2,399.88]
8 TB - $399.99 [$4,799.88]
16 TB - $799.99 [$9,599.88]
posted by inigo2 at 11:09 AM on April 24, 2012 [9 favorites]


The pricing is nice but I notice that there is no desktop client. Both dropbox and skydrive give me a desktop folder to make managing the account way easier. Is there a link? Am I blind?
posted by jadepearl at 11:11 AM on April 24, 2012


There is a desktop client, at least for the Mac. I downloaded it and have it running.
posted by grumblebee at 11:13 AM on April 24, 2012


Desktop client for Windows too. Go to drive.google.com and lookit there.
posted by deezil at 11:14 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


jadepearl: The pricing is nice but I notice that there is no desktop client. Both dropbox and skydrive give me a desktop folder to make managing the account way easier. Is there a link? Am I blind?

You can download the client once you sign up. The client is on Mac, PC, and Android (iOS is coming very shortly). I've been using it on PC this morning, and it works very, very similarly to the Dropbox client.
posted by gilrain at 11:14 AM on April 24, 2012


So, how will this differ from Megaupload in how it's used?

Google can hire more lawyers than Megaupload could have. A lot more.

Maybe all of them.
posted by Trurl at 11:16 AM on April 24, 2012 [11 favorites]


So what's the best deal to be had these days on 1TB?
posted by Edogy at 11:16 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


None of this is particularly novel to developers who are familiar with this technology. Amazon S3, for one, has had an API, SDKs etc. available for several years. It's great that Google is slowly catching up in the cloud space, but they aren't really offering much that other vendors have already been doing for years now.

You absolutely kill me sometimes. I mean this is such a carefully studied parody of John Gruber that it makes me wonder if you're him.
posted by empath at 11:16 AM on April 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Edogy: "So what's the best deal to be had these days on 1TB?"

For pure backup, probably: Backblaze or Crashplan.

(Thought I'm really perturbed that external drives must 'phone home' every 30 days or the information is purged, unlike Crashplan)
posted by wcfields at 11:19 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


1) not everyone can use it yet (it tells me my drive isnt ready yet)
2) no linux fs driver..

sticking to dropbox for the time being
Man, this comment is like vintage Slashdot. I'm actually getting a little nostalgic.

Well, it is less space than a nomad.
posted by mrgoat at 11:20 AM on April 24, 2012 [10 favorites]


Interesting, I cannot sign up. It seems my drive is not ready and I just have a notify me button.
posted by jadepearl at 11:20 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is a HUGE increase (twofold, at least, for most sizes) in prices for anyone already paying for extra storage (prices via):

It's a huge decrease if you're paying for dropbox storage. And I don't think dropbox can match it, since they're just reselling amazon storage.
posted by empath at 11:20 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


How about letting me split my Gmail storage allocation into Drive?
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 11:22 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Microsoft helps you pick which cloud storage system to use.
posted by empath at 11:22 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Man.. This is a HUGE increase (twofold, at least, for most sizes) in prices for anyone already paying for extra storage

You can still keep your old plan and price, so it's not necessarily an increase if you are happy with your current plan. Just if you want to upgrade or downgrade.

It does seem odd how much the prices went up though, especially if you were just using the base $5 to bump up the Picasa storage, which I know a lot of people were doing.
posted by smackfu at 11:24 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's a huge decrease if you're paying for dropbox storage. And I don't think dropbox can match it, since they're just reselling amazon storage.

Interesting, thanks.

And for anyone (else) that already pays for google storage -- apparently, for so long as you don't cancel or upgrade your current service, you can keep renewing at that storage level/cost. Luckily for me, by the time I get past my current level and need to upgrade, storage prices (hopefully) will have fallen.
posted by inigo2 at 11:25 AM on April 24, 2012


Well, the Google Drive App installed on my phone but when I tried to use it, it said that my drive wasn't ready but it would email me when it was.
posted by octothorpe at 11:26 AM on April 24, 2012


When I tried implementing Drop Box in a work environment, we hit the snag that there was no way to prevent one user from deleting files they had access to, and thus deleting that file for all users - in other words, there was no way to set permissions.

Do any of these services offer this ability?
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 11:27 AM on April 24, 2012


I mean this is such a carefully studied parody of John Gruber Pthat it makes me wonder if you're him.

Is it factually incorrect?

If not, it's Gruberesqueness seems kinda irrelevant.
posted by Trurl at 11:28 AM on April 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Those who think Dropbox's founders will wish they cashed out, think Dropbox is going to get bought, or think that Dropbox can't compete on price... seem misguided to me. Yes, Google is gigantic and will be a very formidable competitor.

...but Dropbox raised $250m last fall at a $4b valuation. And the numbers I've heard support that (the last public number was 50m users and guesses of $240m in revenue last year). Dropbox isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

That said, I was really hopeful that Google would massively undercut DB on price (i.e., the old Google storage prices), which they haven't done. It also misses some DB features I love (public links) and doesn't hit the things I really wish DB did (sync any folder... or my real dream, sync an external drive).

Because of all that I'll stick mostly with DB for now, but I'm really excited to see more competition in this space.
posted by alaijmw at 11:29 AM on April 24, 2012


Do any of these services offer this ability?

Amazon S3 allows you to set an ACL that allows setting permissions on stored entities. I don't know what would solve your particular problem — if a user has delete permissions, then others won't be able to read a deleted entity — but you can certainly set who can read, write, and read/write your data.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:32 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Trurl: Is it factually incorrect?

It's at the least disingenuous to compare an easy-to-use, consumer-facing cloud solution like Drive (or Dropbox) to a more difficult, developer-facing service like S3. I mean, Dropbox is built on S3. Is Blazecock saying there's no reason to use Dropbox at a huge markup of S3? That's nonsense.

The more direct comparison is to Dropbox, but that doesn't make his point as well.
posted by gilrain at 11:32 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hello!

I would like to have something that puts all my files "in the cloud". It should Just Work on my Windows box, without me having to move files into special folders. I don't want to have a separate web-based client.

Then it should have a client for iOS and Android and Windows Phone, where I can see my files and edit them. This should integrate with the OS properly, so I can (for example) open text documents with Pages on my iPod Touch.

A web-based login if I need to get at my files from somewhere else.

And I can right-click and make folders shareable or even public.

I should be able to go to my New Laptop and tell it my details and all my files appear from the Cloudy Thing.

If I open a file on a device that isn't my Big Main Machine then when I next open that file - on an airplane, say - it should still be available, even if I'm offline. Or I should be able to make files appear offline.

And no limit on size. And a good price. Any takers? Because at the moment I'm using SkyDrive AND Dropbox AND Carbonite, and it's getting a bit boring...
posted by alasdair at 11:34 AM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ugh, I can't even create new folders from the Android app. But let me guess guys, this is in beta.
posted by selfnoise at 11:35 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


gilrain: "Obviously, in hindsight, a big mistake. Interestingly... the guy who wrote the launch blog post? That was the main guy against GDrive. Whoops!"

Really? I'd actually agree with the "Files are dead/dying" argument, and it looks like GDrive is a whole lot more than a dumb file store. My guess is that the Google bosses agreed with this guy, and put the project on the backburner, and eventually refactored it into something a bit more "Web-like," since GDrive seems to revolve around some fairly recent ideas and paradigms (and a few old ones that never caught on).

"Files" may not actually be dying, but "files" as we currently understand them absolutely suck for computing in 2012, and aren't really an effective means of data storage or interchange (which is more or less their only purpose). It's no surprise that newer mobile operating systems have eschewed most traditional filesystem concepts.

My guess is that the original GDrive looked something like Amazon's Cloud drive or the Dropbox web interface, which is a product that is just really difficult to get excited about. It doesn't do any neat tricks with metadata, and with the exception of the Cloud Player, doesn't really let you do much with your files once they're there. It doesn't bring anything new to the table, and it's simply not Google's way to introduce products that are fundamentally similar to existing competitors. Dropbox are very good at what they do, and it's going to be difficult to compete with them as a file storage/synchronization service.

To me, GDrive looks like an interface that allows me to see all of the "stuff" that I've got stored in Google's cloud that just happens to have an interface that can present itself as a traditional filesystem. Internally, it appears to be much richer than that, and supports all sorts of metadata-based magic, and allows you to take advantage of the fact that your files are in the cloud (ie. sharing and gmail integration that lets you send stuff without downloading/uploading it).

Hell, if they only solve the problem of sending files between computers, which is inexplicably still ridiculously difficult, the product will be a resounding success.

Philosophically, GDrive feels a lot more similar to BeOS's concept of files and the filesystem (with a bit of Plan 9 sprinkled on top) than it does to the ancient Unix/DOS file paradigm that we're all used to. We're long overdue for a metadata-driven, format-agnostic filesystem.


Also, if you've ever worked at a helpdesk, you'll be painfully aware that people cannot deal with files.
posted by schmod at 11:36 AM on April 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


If not, it's Gruberesqueness seems kinda irrelevant.

When I think Gruber, I think about taking any news and pulling out the pro-Apple, anti-Google slant, however of a reach that is.
posted by smackfu at 11:37 AM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


When I think Gruber, I think Hans.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:40 AM on April 24, 2012 [12 favorites]


It would be pretty awesome now if they would expose Picasa and Google Music content as folders in this. That would be the holy grail of syncing for me.
posted by chundo at 11:42 AM on April 24, 2012


I haven't jumped the gShip yet (damnit), as much as G+ really screwed the pooch for me, I still just find it too damn... convenient.

But goddamn if I'm going to make it even MORE convenient and give more of my data to Google. For now I'll keep on using Dropbox for my very limited needs.

If other people like gDrive, bully for them. I know that dropbox is sort of the king right now, and I usually root for the "underdog" but I don't know if I'd really like to call Google the underdog here. It's not a social network, it's storage, and that's something google does right. Or at least, they should.
posted by symbioid at 11:43 AM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


chundo: It would be pretty awesome now if they would expose Picasa and Google Music content as folders in this. That would be the holy grail of syncing for me.

I AM THROWING MY MONEY AT THE SCREEN AND NOTHING IS HAPPENING.
posted by deezil at 11:43 AM on April 24, 2012 [9 favorites]


The more direct comparison is to Dropbox, but that doesn't make his point as well.

Did Dropbox "launch with an API encouraging third-party integration"? (The part of the post he was addressing.) I don't know; I'm asking. I wasn't aware of it then.

But if it's competing as an easy-to-use consumer product, the comments here suggest it has a way to go yet.
posted by Trurl at 11:46 AM on April 24, 2012


But if it's competing as an easy-to-use consumer product, the comments here suggest it has a way to go yet.

It works just like Dropbox though, right?
posted by smackfu at 11:50 AM on April 24, 2012


It's at the least disingenuous to compare an easy-to-use, consumer-facing cloud solution like Drive (or Dropbox) to a more difficult, developer-facing service like S3.

This post is being made at least partially on the basis of offering an interface that allows developers to extend their third-party applications with Google services:

[P]erhaps most notably in the long run, it launched with an API encouraging third-party integration

It seems a fair observation, therefore, that other services — like S3 and iCloud — have already been catering to the needs of third-party developers. As someone who works with cloud technology, competition on pricing is welcome, but other than that, I'd be curious to learn what features are novel with this. Integration with Google services, I suppose, but again, other vendors have been doing this within their own platforms' ecosystems, too.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:50 AM on April 24, 2012



So, how will this differ from Megaupload in how it's used?

Google can hire more lawyers than Megaupload could have. A lot more.


Plus Google is not yelling "PSSST!!! YOU CAN USE THIS TO PIRATE SHIT!!!! NUDGE NUDGE!!! KEEP IT UNDER YOUR HAT!!!" at the top of it's voice.
posted by Artw at 11:52 AM on April 24, 2012


Offline access to Google Docs will move a number of people towards using Docs rather than Office.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 11:53 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Blazecock Pileon: It seems a fair observation, therefore, that other services — like S3 and iCloud — have already been catering to the needs of third-party developers.

A comparison to iCloud, Dropbox, or similar services is completely fair. A comparison to S3 is not, since you left out the "as long as you're ready to program your own client, web interface, and suchlike" disclaimer. AWS is the B2B service of the cloud world. It's not meant for any but the savviest of end users.
posted by gilrain at 11:53 AM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't know if DropBox launched with an API, but they certainly had one soon after. That's why all of your shiny iPhone distraction free text-editors can save to DropBox.

If Google were to launch without an API, they'd be starting way behind.
posted by device55 at 12:02 PM on April 24, 2012


Bezos would never allow it.
posted by Artw at 12:06 PM on April 24, 2012


Maybe the API angle in my post was a distraction, then. I was basing it on the top post in the Hacker News thread.
posted by gilrain at 12:06 PM on April 24, 2012


I'm more excited about the offline access to docs than pretty much anything else, as gdocs is where I keep many of my recipes. Of course, I'm waiting for my drive to be ready. I have no idea what it means, other than "we're rolling out slowly in order to increase newsworthiness".
posted by jeather at 12:08 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


A comparison to S3 is not, since you left out the "as long as you're ready to program your own client, web interface, and suchlike" disclaimer.

I'm not sure that's quite accurate. There are several free, open-source S3 clients, of both CLI and (desktop and web) GUI forms, and SDKs for a number of languages on Amazon's site. It's more or less a solved problem, unless you need some special functionality these clients do not provide.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:08 PM on April 24, 2012


I think it's probably great for people who use Google Apps on a regular basis. Probably less for people who are not that tied to Apps.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 12:08 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


When I tried implementing Drop Box in a work environment, we hit the snag that there was no way to prevent one user from deleting files they had access to, and thus deleting that file for all users - in other words, there was no way to set permissions.

Thats annoying, but not as big a deal as you would think, since it versions and you can always restore.
posted by empath at 12:09 PM on April 24, 2012


Yeah, it wasn't the end of the world, but it needs fixing.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 12:32 PM on April 24, 2012


They had worked something up internally, called GDrive, back in... 2007, I think?

A former Googler mentioned on Twitter how she used this when she started in 2005.

I'll note that the fact that it took 7 years to get this product out has nothing to do with technology.
posted by GuyZero at 1:21 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


People didn't get a free 50GB Box account already?
posted by Burhanistan at 1:35 PM on April 24, 2012


2) no linux fs driver..

Writing a FUSE userspace driver for something like this is an afternoon's worth of work. Somebody will do it, if it hasn't been done already.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 1:37 PM on April 24, 2012


Alasdair> I think you want SugarSync.com, which has served me well for awhile now. It does most if not all of whatyou're asking yet somehow often gets overlooked for some reason.
posted by datter at 2:13 PM on April 24, 2012


The Verge has a great comparison of services in this post.

So, how will this differ from Megaupload in how it's used?

The main difference appears to be that you can't make files public (similar to iCloud).
posted by bonehead at 2:22 PM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


One minor annoyance: now that my Google Docs have been switched to Drive, my files are listed alphabetically instead of having the most recently accessed files at the top of my list. That was one small feature of GDocs that I really appreciated.
posted by asnider at 2:25 PM on April 24, 2012


Er...on preview, that isn't an issue. My sorting preferences got reset when I switched to Drive. The option to sort by most recently edited still exists.
posted by asnider at 2:26 PM on April 24, 2012


The main difference appears to be that you can't make files public (similar to iCloud).

Surely that'll be changed quickly. It was added to Dropbox in the last week.
posted by phearlez at 2:27 PM on April 24, 2012


The main difference appears to be that you can't make files public (similar to iCloud).


Yes you can, here's one I made public.
posted by empath at 2:31 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


So the Verge article is wrong then. sorry for that, I'm at work and Google drive is already on the block list. That seemed weird to me too, as you can make Google Docs public.
posted by bonehead at 2:54 PM on April 24, 2012


Does anyone know if this can be mounted as a network drive in Windows Explorer?
posted by dhens at 3:11 PM on April 24, 2012


Do any of these services offer this ability

Drive has all the same ACL abilities as Docs. You can set owner / edit / view permissions, make something visible to everyone (Public / global), only those with the link (pseudo-private), or only those specifically listed.

One thing about Drive is that for many doc types it has special clients. Some of this was already in docs --- upload a Word doc and it will make it available/editable in Google Docs.

Another example would be for private video sharing --- you can upload a video to Drive and watch it using the same player as YouTube, and share this will all the normal docs/drive ACL.

I am glad I decided to get the 80GB for $20/year before the pricing structure changed, though (had no idea that was going to happen as part of the launch, which I did know about).
posted by wildcrdj at 4:08 PM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Does anyone know if this can be mounted as a network drive in Windows Explorer?


Sort of. It shows up as a folder that auto-syncs to Drive. So in a day-to-day use case sort of way, it is pretty much the same thing. But it's actually a local copy that is synced with the cloud copy, not just a view onto the network copy, so under the hood its a little different. For most use cases this won't matter, the only potential problem is that it will take an equivalent amount of local disk space.
posted by wildcrdj at 4:10 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm surprised they don't have a special viewer for MP3s like empath's link. It knows it is an audio format from the icon, but it only allows you to download.
posted by smackfu at 4:10 PM on April 24, 2012


Drive has all the same ACL abilities as Docs

That's huge. Thanks.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 4:27 PM on April 24, 2012


Here's another example of the Drive SDK being put to use... HelloFax can send faxes from, and receive them to, your Google Drive. Oh, to've had this a couple years ago; I don't send many faxes now, though. Looking forward to seeing what all begins to hook into Drive.

I'm sticking with Dropbox, for now, since I have a bunch of free storage with them and they do everything I need, so far. However, if apps I actually use begin hooking into Drive, that could quickly change.
posted by gilrain at 4:35 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why would anyone want to give Google more access to his/her files? I used to trust Google, but its behavior this year has made me step way back. "If you're not paying for the service then you're not the customer, you're the product."
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 4:40 PM on April 24, 2012


If you're not paying for the service

But you are paying for (more than a small amount) of storage here.
posted by wildcrdj at 4:42 PM on April 24, 2012


True, but I still don't trust Google anymore. Call me paranoid.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 4:49 PM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I don't trust anybody -- where 'anybody' refers to any of the companies we're talking about in this thread -- any more.

Sometimes paranoia is a valid strategy.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:32 PM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Would someone be so kind as to give me an example or two of what they fear Google might do with their information? When you say you don't "trust" these companies, what exactly do you mean?
posted by reductiondesign at 6:02 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


They might SHOW YOU DIFFERENT ADVERTS. Wooooo!
posted by Artw at 6:04 PM on April 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


alasdair, you can totally do this with Google Docs/Drive and KumoSync. Just run KumoSync, enter your Google Account info, select the folders you want to automatically sync, and pesto -- every file saved in the designated folder will sync to the same folder in your Google storage account. Likewise, if you change a file through Google Docs, it will sync to your PC(s).

I use this all the time and haven't had a problem. It's so much more convenient than Dropbox if you're primarily interested in backup and ubiquitous file access/sync.
posted by GnomeChompsky at 6:13 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


When you say you don't "trust" these companies, what exactly do you mean?

For my part, I am uncomfortable with the whole cloud thing, and am concerned that some arbitrary decision by some product manager somewhere will make files I store there inaccessible. So the word 'trust' can just mean simply 'feel confidence in the persistence and availability of a given service, particularly when that service is free'.

But given the business models that have evolved around the explosion of the social web, I also do not trust Google or anyone else to not force me to participate in things like Google+, and, as we've seen actually happen, create requirements that my real identity be tied to email addresses that I've used for many years, threatening to disable the account if I demur.

I don't trust these companies to maintain my privacy, I don't trust them to do anything but automatically turn over all the information about me and files they have of mine to law enforcement authorities at the first request -- or, more likely, just make that information mine-able, along with everyone else's, and regardless of whether I have done anything wrong, that makes me uncomfortable in the extreme.

I understand that my bias towards keeping my data, my files, my digital life as much as possible on hardware that is physically local to me is Old Man Thinking, to some extent, and that part of my resistance to it is irrational and retrograde and change-resistant. Hell, I've been using my array of Gmail accounts for years without worrying about it overmuch.

But I reiterate that paranoia can be a valid strategy: that even if, as people are so fond of saying these days, privacy is dead, I am disinclined to just ignore the implications of giving these companies access to every aspect of my online (and offline) life.

I don't read 30 page EULAs. I just don't. Nobody does. And therefore, I am unprepared to click a button marked Accept if I can avoid it.

Trust is something that must be earned; there aren't many companies out there that I can honestly claim that I trust. Hell, there aren't that many people, when it comes down to it.

They might SHOW YOU DIFFERENT ADVERTS. Wooooo!

I am no fan of advertising, I admit, but that's kind of shitty, reductionist way to mock what are, after all, valid concerns that many people have about the growth of the whole 'cloud' model of data storage.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:24 PM on April 24, 2012 [14 favorites]


The sort of general cloud dislike that stavrosthewonderchicken describes makes more sense to me, although I'd note that "am concerned that some arbitrary decision by some product manager somewhere will make files I store there inaccessible" is less of an issue assuming you have copies in both places, which would be common with something like Drive folder sync.

I keep most of my important data in 2 places locally AND in the cloud. If I want to store very personal data in the cloud, I can just encrypt it.
posted by wildcrdj at 6:29 PM on April 24, 2012


Sometimes paranoia is a valid strategy.

What if, one day, personal USB keys are associated with pornography and terrorism because everyone stores their files in the all convenient cloud. Of course, the cloud is trolled by neofascists so one doesn't keep their porn or unlicensed music terrorism in the cloud. So people form the association and assume that people who own their own personal hard drive are dangerous. Eventually, we don't control the cloud and the cloud controls us and Richard Stallman rides away barechested on a Harley in to the sunset, skynet, etc.
posted by fuq at 6:31 PM on April 24, 2012


what they fear Google might do with their information?

What stavros said. Google's raison d'être is knowing what you do.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 6:34 PM on April 24, 2012


...or, more likely, just make that information mine-able, along with everyone else's, and regardless of whether I have done anything wrong, that makes me uncomfortable in the extreme.

I'm not trying to start an argument, I'm just genuinely curious—why is this a big deal? If it's simply a generational gap (I'm twenty-two and this sort of thing is just the norm to me), then I guess I'm asking for an answer that doesn't exist, but I don't understand the fear of Google knowing things about me. And if someone is stupid enough to discuss something illegal over email, then it's hard for me to find sympathy for them once Google hands over that data to the FBI. (All of this is not to mention encryption, and if I had to email something potentially incriminating, you'd bet it'd be encrypted.)

So Google knows if I cheat on my wife, Apple has copies of my vacation photos, and Facebook knows all my favorite music. Okay. It just seems like a lot of fuss about something that I view as a non-issue—after all, I control what I type or upload for these companies to see—and I keep hoping that someone will show me the other side of the coin, so to speak. Turns out, maybe there is no other side.
posted by reductiondesign at 6:35 PM on April 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Old Pricing structure (prices are yearly)
20 GB - $5
New Pricing structure ... 25 GB ... [$29.88]


AH ha ha!
Seagate Barracuda Green 2TB $ 114.99
posted by Twang at 6:36 PM on April 24, 2012


I think for me, part of the equation is also having a long, long history of computing and internet use: being an old bastard, basically. And being tired of 'moving house'.

Over the years, I've migrated my data, and my email accounts, and (with the exception of Metafilter) much of my online socializing as companies either disappeared, or went Evil, or were aquired by larger companies, or started charging for once-free services, or any number of other things.

Over the years, I left Geocities, I left Hotmail, I mostly left Delicious and Flickr and Yahoo itself, I left Hotbot and AltaVista, I left Something Awful and any number of other hangouts, I left Facebook, thank god: the list goes on and on.

wildcrdj's point about keeping local copies of stuff notwithstanding, a lot of it is also about the social element of all these things (leaving out file storage for the moment), which is much of the draw, of course. And it's a fairly large pain in the ass to move from one platform to another, for email or for photos or even for socializing.

I've mentioned before here in the recent past that the way Google's been going, I'm thinking it might be time to leave them too, but my god, their services are so deeply entwined now in my online life that I'm not sure if I can muster the energy to do so.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:38 PM on April 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


AH ha ha!
Seagate Barracuda Green 2TB $ 114.99


Google's copy of your data is probably* replicated to two data centers and will probably be on three separate drives in each data center*. Also, bandwidth, cheap as it may be, is also included in that cost.

*I say probably because this is my understanding of what the current Google consumer data replication setup is but I don't work as a Google SRE so I don't know for sure.
posted by GuyZero at 6:59 PM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm not trying to start an argument, I'm just genuinely curious—why is this a big deal?

Well, I do suspect it might be a generational thing to an extent. It's the principle to me, because little as I trust companies, I trust government agencies and law enforcement even less. Over the decades -- and a couple of decades way back where I hung out with, well, let's just say people on the fringes a fair bit -- I have come to the conclusion that government and law enforcement are generally incompetent and sometimes outright malevolent, and that the only way to be free of the kind of Kafkaesque horrors I've seen other, good people go through when the baleful searchlight glare shone on them is to keep well away as much as possible.

My prejudice -- I use that word because that is what it is, I admit -- in matters of law enforcement (I'm not talking about cops catching rapists or breaking up bar fights here, I'm talking about things like the way, let's say, that government agencies enforce copyright, or, much more terrifyingly, seem to be happy with clandestine torture of 'Enemies of the State') means that if I can not have a reasonably expectation of some degree of privacy and protection from arbitrary investigation (trolling for tidbits, let's call it), from companies that provide the online services I use to just hand over everything they 'know' about me, as part and parcel with their data on millions of others, even, then I am not comfortable.

Cops walking a beat (do they even do that any more?) is one thing. Data analysis drones algorithming their way through masses of data provided to law enforcement organizations by Facebook or Google (whether or not they actually do that yet) is entirely another.

It comes down to a certain pessimism, or at least lack of optimism. I am not confident, I guess, that we are not building the infrastructure for an oppressive digital police state Of Tomorrow. It worries me, and my inclination, as in my real life, is to provide authorites with as little grist for that potential mill as possible.

As the joke goes, fuck a goat once, and for the rest of your life, you're The Goat Fucker. Same issue with faceless bureacracies: once they attach whatever labels to you that their datamining might decide are appropriate, well, that's what you are and will be. Better, I reckon, that they just have no data to mine.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:00 PM on April 24, 2012 [4 favorites]


that's kind of shitty, reductionist way to mock what are, after all, valid concerns that many people have about the growth of the whole 'cloud' model of data storage.

So what are these legitimate concerns? Most of the concerns I've heard are basically speculation about cloud providers acting in bad faith.
posted by GuyZero at 7:00 PM on April 24, 2012


and you posted them at the same time.

Anyway Google posts a summary of all the government request for user data it holds. Google Transparency Report. So they give you some data about judging the risk for yourself.
posted by GuyZero at 7:03 PM on April 24, 2012


Of course, and that's all well and good. I'm not trying to convince anyone of anything here, just answering questions about the way I personally feel.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:07 PM on April 24, 2012


It's the apps for me. The Google word processing program is a mediocrity that's neither WYSIWIG or semantic. It's too fat for my personal writing preferences, not beefy enough for the once-a-month professional headaches that demand the latest version of Word, and feels like an X11 throwback. Plus and Mail seem to have picked up Microsoft/Facebook interface disease, and then there was the Reader snafu with features vanishing to make way for Plus.

So I'm happy with Dropbox. I'm not even close to my quota, I can run whatever I want locally, and just upload it with a Command-S. I appreciate NetNewswire synchronization with Reader, which saves me from actually having to use Reader. It mostly works without me needing to think about it, which is a good thing.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 7:12 PM on April 24, 2012


So what are these legitimate concerns? Most of the concerns I've heard are basically speculation about cloud providers acting in bad faith.

Google forbad the use of usernames with Google+. This was done for Google's benefit, not the users. There is no reason to start storing documents on their servers.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:22 PM on April 24, 2012


Do you need to use Google+ to access Docs/Drive? You didn't before.

(honestly I don't even know as I signed up ages ago and I don't know what all the valid combinations are. but seriously, I don't think you need to use Google+ to use Drive. But I could be wrong)

I'm pretty sure you have to give Apple your credit card number to open an iTunes account which is pretty much a requirement to get software for your iPad. Is that any more egregious than asking people for their names?
posted by GuyZero at 7:44 PM on April 24, 2012


I'm pretty sure you have to give Apple your credit card number to open an iTunes account which is pretty much a requirement to get software for your iPad. Is that any more egregious than asking people for their names?

At the risk of a derail into Apple-fight-land (and giving a retailer a credit card number has next to nothing to do with what we're talking about here, anyway), but actually you don't. I can't remember exactly how to do it -- try to download something free without an account, signup during the process, and it'll let you do it without a credit card, maybe? -- but I have never given Apple a credit card number.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:47 PM on April 24, 2012


I was responding to Brandon whose objection was that Drive was somehow bad because of Google+'s name policies.

So I find most people's reasons to not use Google Drive pretty arbitrary although I'm not so crazy that I think everyone should have a gun held to their head until they upload everything into "the cloud". Most people who say there's some terrible price to pay for using Cloud Service X have probably done something equally terrible while using Cloud Service Y. I don't really want to start a Google-Apple thing either but I just think most people's justification don't really hold up that well. But by no means does anyone have to use anything.

I think you can also buy itunes prepaid cards in lieu of a credit card.
posted by GuyZero at 7:54 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is that any more egregious than asking people for their names?

Mefite Bitter Old Punk was on Google+ with that handle. Then Google decided that usernames were bad and forced BoP to use his real name if he wanted to use G+.

That's not a company to put a lot of trust in.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:57 PM on April 24, 2012


I seem to recall that people were always required to use real names (for better or worse) and it simply took them some time to actually enforce the policy everywhere.

You don't have to agree with the policy but I'm pretty sure that's what it was from the beginning. I'm not sure what Google did wrong here - it required "real names" and when someone used a pseudonym their profile got suspended.

I'm not saying anyone has to like it but I don't think it was ever not clear that these were the rules.

And, like I said, I don't think you need to use G+ to use Drive.
posted by GuyZero at 8:05 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Merlin Mann:

Imagine a guy who's REALLY into panties who makes ALL his money selling data about panties. Now he offers to store your panties. Yeah—that.

I don't like or trust google, but I get that trusting company X or company Y can seem less than a great reason. But google makes it's money not on selling Phones, or Computers, or much of anything at this point except advertising, much like facebook. Everything is based upon selling as much of you as possible. Of course, facebook knows even more about its members than google does, so google has to continually strive to find ways of finding out even more about its base of users (google plus, now this).

I would rather not give my information to a company that is desperate for my information, and I would feel that way regardless of my feelings regarding google.
posted by justgary at 8:14 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Self-link: Basic rsync-like capability and a FUSE filesystem (with some limitations):
http://code.google.com/p/fuse-for-google-docs/
posted by thandal at 8:18 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


I got the "

Burhanistan: "People didn't get a free 50GB Box account already?"

Box made me want to nuke something from orbit. Besides their flaky interface, their inability to correctly copy data structures, and the fact that free accounts aren't allowed to download directories, (assuming you could get one correctly mirrored *up*), you could only get your data one file at a time later, unless you upgraded your account to a fee based account.

Box should be recycled.

Drive "isn't ready yet".

SkyDrive is doing a free 25G early adopters thing. It's not an automatic give from MS though, here's a walkthrough.
posted by dejah420 at 12:34 AM on April 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Box is terrible for pretty much everything, and the WebDAV interface repeatedly disconnects on me so even sane via command line things can't be done. I had hopes of rsync plus file splitting, you see.

Friends do not let friends use Box (and I say that even after they gave me 3 terabytes for free).
posted by jaduncan at 4:42 AM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


So Google knows if I cheat on my wife, Apple has copies of my vacation photos, and Facebook knows all my favorite music.

And then your boss or next door neighbour also knows you cheated on your wife, or some local journalist a few years down the road finds those not quite respectable pictures of you on holiday in Ibiza that you thought had only made available to your family, but Google or Facebook or whomever decided to open up to the world just because and publishes a highly embarassing article because you're now a councilperson, or you're interviewing for a new job and Apple now has an employer service that profiles you based on your public and semi-public data.
posted by MartinWisse at 5:04 AM on April 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Then you should probably not post pictures of you banging your secretary to your google drive, but doesn't that kind of go without saying?
posted by empath at 5:55 AM on April 25, 2012


If you got a notification that your drive wasn't ready yesterday, it probably is today- at least mine was.
posted by peppermind at 7:50 AM on April 25, 2012


And then your boss or next door neighbour also knows you cheated on your wife, or some local journalist a few years down the road finds those not quite respectable pictures of you on holiday in Ibiza that you thought had only made available to your family, but Google or Facebook or whomever decided to open up to the world just because and publishes a highly embarassing article because you're now a councilperson, or you're interviewing for a new job and Apple now has an employer service that profiles you based on your public and semi-public data.

AND THEN IF THEY CAME INTO YOUR HOUSE AND TOUCHED YOUR DOG! INTIMATELY! AND THEN SAID IT WAS YOU! IMAGINE!!!!!111eleven!
posted by jaduncan at 8:02 AM on April 25, 2012


(or you could just not assume that they are a friendly party and encrypt private or semi-private data client side before uploading)
posted by jaduncan at 8:04 AM on April 25, 2012


Then you should probably not post pictures of you banging your secretary to your google drive, but doesn't that kind of go without saying?

The value of a service like Dropbox or Drive is the extent to which it becomes transparent. The more you have to think carefully about what you're doing, the less useful it is.

You want to be able to able to sync a folder of photos and not have to look through each of them wondering if it's something that might prove a problem if it got into the public domain six years from now.

Google's TOS seems to leave them a lot of options for creating derivative works from what you give them access to, re-purposing them for whatever will make them a buck, and having the right to do so in perpetuity, even if you stop using their services.

It is kinda worrying.
posted by philipy at 9:09 AM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


G-Drive still not ready. Kind of an awkward rollout.
posted by jadepearl at 9:15 AM on April 25, 2012


Google's TOS seems to leave them a lot of options for creating derivative works from what you give them access to, re-purposing them for whatever will make them a buck, and having the right to do so in perpetuity, even if you stop using their services.

That's boilerplate so they can do stuff like convert your word document to a google docs document or what have you without getting your permission every single time. Almost every hosting service has something similar to that.
posted by empath at 9:26 AM on April 25, 2012


The link shows the equivalent TOS from Dropbox and Skydrive, and they don't give them themselves anything like the same rights.

If you think boilerplate that gives people legal rights to do what they like with your content is never a problem, you are being a little bit naive. There are plenty of examples of companies that have abused those kind of rights.
posted by philipy at 9:34 AM on April 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Has Google? Ever?
posted by empath at 9:36 AM on April 25, 2012


Is Google Drive worse for privacy than iCloud, Skydrive, and Dropbox?

(Betteridge's Law of Headlines applies, if you don't want to click the link.)
posted by entropicamericana at 9:53 AM on April 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


The link shows the equivalent TOS from Dropbox and Skydrive, and they don't give them themselves anything like the same rights.

They also don't have the same capabilities (google docs, picasa image editing, etc) (at least to my knowledge), so they wouldn't need them.
posted by inigo2 at 9:57 AM on April 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


empath, you seem to be in a mode of defending your position reflexively rather than looking at what people are saying and thinking about it.

Firstly, if you've ever been bitten by one of these things, everything looks great and the people seem trustworthy when you happily sign up, thinking: "Sure the TOS says X, but it's just boilerplate, the guys are nice, they've treated everyone well so far, and assured us they'd never do anything like what the TOS says they could do." Then a few years go by, maybe the company is under pressure to make more money, maybe the people in charge have changed, maybe it's the same people but you see a different side of them when everything is not looking so sunny for them.

As for Google, I'm not thrilled that they've after-the-event required people to use real names on Google+, or that they want to combine all your ids for any service they've acquired into one identity, or that their Streetview cars "accidentally" sucked in data from every unsecured wi-fi network they came across. There are a bunch of other privacy concerns around Streetview, and the least that you can say is that Google hardly considers people's privacy sacrosant when that would inconvenience them.
posted by philipy at 10:02 AM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


They also don't have the same capabilities

I beleve Skydrive does. It seems to be to MS Office what Drive is to Google Docs.

However you might want to consider if you want to put your general cloud storage and your intentionally shared docs in the same place.
posted by philipy at 10:08 AM on April 25, 2012


philipy: I beleve Skydrive does. It seems to be to MS Office what Drive is to Google Docs.

Yes, and Skydrive has a nearly identical ToS, as a result. iCloud also has an extremely similar ToS. Dropbox, with its fewer services, is the only one that has a better reading ToS... but their friendly language is actually too vague, and as a result they claim equally broad permissions: "You give us the permissions we need to do those things solely to provide the Services." Whereas Microsoft and Google actually list the specific permissions they need to run their services, Dropbox just claims you give them whatever they happen to need, without listing.
posted by gilrain at 10:13 AM on April 25, 2012


Anyone remember XDrive?
posted by steinsaltz at 10:16 AM on April 25, 2012


I highly recommend people concerned about the Drive ToS read the Verge anlysis linked by entropicamericana, above. It lays out the ToS of the major players and shows that the permissions required to run the services are effectively the same, with only minor variations. In short, if you don't like the Drive ToS, which is reasonable, you might need to avoid cloud services altogether.
posted by gilrain at 10:16 AM on April 25, 2012


To be fair, it's not that I'm totally unconcerned about Skydrive or Dropbox, or that I would completely rule out using Drive. In the real world you have to make trade-offs.

Microsoft's TOS does (from entropicamericana's link) say:

you hereby grant Microsoft the right, to use, modify, adapt, reproduce, distribute, and display content posted on the service solely to the extent necessary to provide the service

IANAL, but is seems considerably less broad than Google's TOS.
posted by philipy at 10:25 AM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


philipy: you hereby grant Microsoft the right, to use, modify, adapt, reproduce, distribute, and display content posted on the service solely to the extent necessary to provide the service

IANAL, but is seems considerably less broad than Google's TOS.


And Drive's says: "The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones."

That seems like pretty much the same thing, but I imagine both of those little clauses wouldn't have much meaning in a strict, legal context. To use it illicitly, they need only claim the illicit purpose is part of their service.
posted by gilrain at 10:30 AM on April 25, 2012


Looking at the article again, I see that a lot turns on what is meant by "the service".

Does "the service" mean just Drive or Skydrive, or does it mean "all Google services", "all MS services"?
posted by philipy at 10:30 AM on April 25, 2012


you seem to be in a mode of defending your position reflexively rather than looking at what people are saying and thinking about it.

I don't really have a position here. I think all those services are basically the same and have the same problems, if there are any problems. I actually have dropbox, icloud AND google drive, and I'll probably use all three of them with the same amount of concern of security and privacy-- I'm not uploading anything to those sites that I would be unduly upset about going public-- mostly mp3s, songs I'm working on, random animated gifs and personal photos, and some text documents.

There's no way I'd put anything like financial information on there unless it was encrypted, and that's more over fears of incompetence than maliciousness.
posted by empath at 10:42 AM on April 25, 2012


empath, then we're probably really thinking much the same.

I have Dropbox and I use Gmail and Google Docs, though don't use any of them extensively. I might use Drive, but be careful about what I'd put on it.

I would love it if someone developed cloud services like these with strong guarantees about privacy and clear legal limitations on what they could do with your stuff. That might be a pretty good business too if anyone wants to do it.
posted by philipy at 11:01 AM on April 25, 2012


I would love it if someone developed cloud services like these with strong guarantees about privacy and clear legal limitations on what they could do with your stuff. That might be a pretty good business too if anyone wants to do it.

That still doesn't protect you from plain old stupidity or government subpoena's.
posted by empath at 11:11 AM on April 25, 2012


That still doesn't protect you from plain old stupidity or government subpoena's.

I'd be fucking thrilled just to have the companies I do business with actually require subpoenas. Unlike, say, my cellphone company, who apparently is willing to just hand over giant swathes of data to the government for whatever trolling amuses them. And since they've demonstrated a willingness to embed undercovers with any group that dares to express dissatisfaction, no matter how benign, I certainly don't trust them not to look through my shit just because it amuses me.

Google's rifling through my shit for their own personal benefit seems positively quaint by comparison.
posted by phearlez at 11:19 AM on April 25, 2012


It tells me "Your Google Drive is not ready yet". What's wrong?
posted by perpetual_dream at 11:22 AM on April 25, 2012


It's an ongoing roll out. Not everyone has it yet.
posted by empath at 11:25 AM on April 25, 2012


Gee, and here I moved my prescriptions to a pharmacy across town due to a repeated series of understandable and minor, if medically uncomfortable, customer-service screwups. Not liking the TOS or potential relationships with law enforcement strikes me as reasonable.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 11:36 AM on April 25, 2012


"Files" may not actually be dying, but "files" as we currently understand them absolutely suck for computing in 2012, and aren't really an effective means of data storage or interchange (which is more or less their only purpose). It's no surprise that newer mobile operating systems have eschewed most traditional filesystem concepts.

Are you excluding Android from the "newer mobile operating systems"? It's basically Unix, and in *nix systems, EVERYTHING is a file. New hard drive? It's a file under \media. Command? It's a file. Bluetooth connection? File.

Seriously, I'm not sure what you even mean by this statement. Explain?

Hell, if they only solve the problem of sending files between computers, which is inexplicably still ridiculously difficult, the product will be a resounding success.

OK, I couldn't agree more on that one.
posted by IAmBroom at 12:18 PM on April 25, 2012


Are you excluding Android from the "newer mobile operating systems"? It's basically Unix, and in *nix systems, EVERYTHING is a file. New hard drive? It's a file under \media. Command? It's a file. Bluetooth connection? File.

I think the post was talking about this from a user perspective. On Android phones, or iPhones, you rarely open a "folder" and navigate to "files". Directory/files/etc are largely hidden concepts, apps just have data they manage.

Obviously, underneath the old system is still there (certainly for Android), but that is a distinction that only matter to people like you and me who care how it actually works. Most people just think of apps as having data, whereas in the PC/Mac world you might open a file with Word, on Android/iOS you open the app and then choose the data you want to manipulate.
posted by wildcrdj at 2:58 PM on April 25, 2012


And to extend that further and to the topic, many users don't know what data is stored locally and what data is in the cloud, especially on phones.
posted by wildcrdj at 2:59 PM on April 25, 2012


The metaphor of a file being a single set of bits stored in a particular place on a particular drive, in a particular "folder" or "directory" is dead. Files/documents are going to be distributed widely and tagged and indexed, instead of stuck into a hierarchical file system. Also, versioning and backups will be built in, so you don't have to worry about saving redundant copies.
posted by empath at 5:07 PM on April 25, 2012


For what it's worth, this is pointing at the kind of concerns I was expressing upthread, although my comments weren't actually about file hosting specifically.
Jeschke [EFF's media relations director and digital rights analyst] went on to point out that users should be more concerned with who Google might be forced to give their files to, than what Google itself might do with their files. "In light of Megaupload, it's possible that users are worried about the wrong thing," she said. Files stored in the cloud can still be easily lost or subpoenaed without the users' knowledge, Jeschke noted, an issue that's often overlooked.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:11 PM on April 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


The metaphor of a file being a single set of bits stored in a particular place on a particular drive, in a particular "folder" or "directory" is dead.

If I had a nickle for every time I've read that over the last 25 years...

Filenames and folders are just metadata with an iconic view to display related sets of metadata. The metadata tag "/usr/local/bin" no more specifies a particular place than the playlist "silly love songs."

As far as metadata goes, a "folder" is still a useful collection of semantically-related heterogeneous items, and that's still a necessity in our multimedia universe.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:43 PM on April 25, 2012


As for Google, I'm not thrilled that they've after-the-event required people to use real names on Google+, or that they want to combine all your ids for any service they've acquired into one identity, or that their Streetview cars "accidentally" sucked in data from every unsecured wi-fi network they came across. There are a bunch of other privacy concerns around Streetview, and the least that you can say is that Google hardly considers people's privacy sacrosant when that would inconvenience them.

Gross mischaracterizations in each case.

Real Names were required from the get-go for G+.

The streetview cars collected data that was being broadcast over public airwaves, in most cases unencrypted. The collection of that data is no different than taking a picture of the front of your house. The only difference was that it happened in a different chunk of the EM spectrum.
posted by GuyZero at 8:45 PM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


empath: The metaphor of a file being a single set of bits stored in a particular place on a particular drive, in a particular "folder" or "directory" is dead. Files/documents are going to be distributed widely and tagged and indexed, instead of stuck into a hierarchical file system.

OK, IF that's what schmod meant, then he misspoke. Instead, "Hierarchical file systems are dead" is what he meant. It's like saying "cars are dead!", when you actually mean interstate traffic has supplanted county and state highways for long-distance travel.

Filenames and folders are just metadata with an iconic view to display related sets of metadata. The metadata tag "/usr/local/bin" no more specifies a particular place than the playlist "silly love songs."

As far as metadata goes, a "folder" is still a useful collection of semantically-related heterogeneous items, and that's still a necessity in our multimedia universe.

This, CBrachyrhynchos. I'm not aware of any file system that operates as easily on millions to billions of files in a pile as well as one that operates on 1,000's of directories, some nested, containing a few to many files each.

Also, versioning and backups will be built in, so you don't have to worry about saving redundant copies.

My experience is that versioning and backups create far more redundant copies than I ever could... but as you say, empath, the user will not have to worry about that.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:15 PM on April 25, 2012


Someone clever should write a front-end app that ties the APIs of all these services into one place that lets you manage the approximately 50 free GB you can get for signing up for all of them. The app would then just present a large contiguous amount of space and manage transfers between the various services. I'd use it.
posted by Edogy at 7:52 AM on April 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh hey, someone has.
posted by Edogy at 7:54 AM on April 26, 2012


.As far as metadata goes, a "folder" is still a useful collection of semantically-related heterogeneous items, and that's still a necessity in our multimedia universe.

That's what tags are for.
posted by empath at 8:07 AM on April 26, 2012


empath: That's what tags are for.

Certainly, and a folder is just another tag. A filename is just a tag. In fact, a folder can even be a query on content or a related set of tags.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:14 AM on April 26, 2012


In fact, a folder can even be a query on content or a related set of tags.

Exactly, but if you're doing that, you've eliminated heirarchy.
posted by empath at 8:19 AM on April 26, 2012


empath: Exactly, but if you're doing that, you've eliminated heirarchy.

Not necessarily. In fact, I'd say that eliminating hierarchy entirely is shooting yourself in the foot by eliminating a useful tool of structuring information.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:24 AM on April 26, 2012


There's no reason you couldn't give your files only one tag if you want them to be only in one place.
posted by empath at 8:26 AM on April 26, 2012


(logically speaking)
posted by empath at 8:26 AM on April 26, 2012


empath: There's no reason you couldn't give your files only one tag if you want them to be only in one place.

What does this have to do with anything?

Hierarchical tags are concise ways to express subset relationships or limit searches. That way, it's easy for me to find the set of files related to Chapter 1 of Project A (with the combined tag ProjectA/Chapter01) without wasting time looking at Chapters 1 of Projects B - Z, ebooks, and technical documentation that might be sitting on my computer.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 8:53 AM on April 26, 2012


And, tagging and indexing information is a technology that's over 125 years old now. It's not a panacea to problems of organizing large data sets, either practically or theoretically. That problem doesn't get any easier by saying, "let's treat all subsets as intersections!"
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 9:33 AM on April 26, 2012


Which is why most people still use Yahoo's index to find websites.
posted by empath at 9:44 AM on April 26, 2012


Which is why most people still use Yahoo's index to find websites.

Google supports multiple forms of hierarchal search. It's linked from the main page even, and site search is one of their main commercial products.

But that's comparing apples and oranges a bit. Keyword searches in Google, Bing, and Yahoo, deliver the "top pages" on a topic. They don't necessarily deliver the page with the right answer or the specific page you're looking for. The problem is especially acute when the meaning of a term in the doman you want is radically different in a different domain. I've spent hours chasing down a source on the basis of a partially remembered quote, only to find that I was using the wrong synonym or proper name spelling.

One advantage to hierarchal tags is that you get specificity with tag reuse. ProjectA/Chapter01/Introduction identifies a specific relationship. Anyone looking at the set ProjectA/Chapter01 can identify the introduction, and I can identify the introduction to ProjectK/Chapter01 at a glance.

And if we're getting rid of hierarchal relationships on data, let's be consistent about it. You can't say that "Clap Hands" was a track on Rain Dogs. That "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield" was part of the third season of Star Trek, or that Fellowship of the Ring is the first volume of literary The Lord of the Rings (distinct from the tag LotR which would include related works like Bored of the Rings, "Ballad of Bilbo Baggins." the MMORPG, and the movies. Metafilter has a hierarchal classification of its data across the top.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 11:07 AM on April 26, 2012


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