Stephen Fry Explains Cloud Computing in a Short Animated Video

Just the oth­er day, I did the unthink­able: I actu­al­ly watched a pre-video adver­tise­ment. The spot, for a major bank, spent its first few min­utes explain­ing the mechan­ics of cred­it rat­ing. Promis­ing use­ful knowl­edge, this bank received my atten­tion in return — for about two thirds of the com­mer­cial, any­way. The video above, com­mis­sioned by a com­pa­ny called Data­bar­racks, does much the same by offer­ing an expla­na­tion of “cloud com­put­ing,” a con­cept you’ve sure­ly heard much thrown around over the past sev­er­al years. Sweet­en­ing the deal, it uses for its visu­als a drawn-as-you-watch style of edu­ca­tion­al ani­ma­tion you may have encoun­tered here before, and it employs as its nar­ra­tor writer, come­di­an, and man-about-inter­net Stephen Fry, from whom I’ve always enjoyed a good expla­na­tion. “Today,” he begins, “we are in the mid­dle of a rev­o­lu­tion in busi­ness com­put­ing.”

In ser­vice of this the­sis, he then goes back to 2700 BC, when the Sume­ri­ans invent­ed the aba­cus, con­tin­u­ing on through Leonar­do da Vin­ci’s plans for a mechan­i­cal cal­cu­la­tor, Charles Bab­bage’s dif­fer­ence engine, Alan Tur­ing and Tom­my Flow­ers’ for­ward-look­ing sep­a­ra­tion of hard­ware from soft­ware, and Tim Bern­ers-Lee’s real­iza­tion that com­put­ers could oper­ate on some­thing like a neur­al net­work — some­thing like this very World Wide Web. We then see and hear an anal­o­gy made between com­put­ing and elec­tric­i­ty. Where once firms want­i­ng to use elec­tric­i­ty had to build and main­tain their own bur­den­some pow­er plants, now they have elec­tric­i­ty as a util­i­ty, pay­ing only for what they need at the time. And while firms have main­ly, up to this point, pur­chased and oper­at­ed their own stores of com­put­ing pow­er, doing it cloud-style will free them all to pay for that, too, as a util­i­ty. A bold pitch, per­haps, but every­thing sounds rea­son­able — inevitable, even — com­ing from Stephen Fry.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Stephen Fry Hosts “The Sci­ence of Opera,” a Dis­cus­sion of How Music Moves Us Phys­i­cal­ly to Tears

Stephen Fry: What I Wish I Knew When I Was 18

Stephen Fry Intro­duces the Strange New World of Nanoscience

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture and writes essays on lit­er­a­ture, film, cities, Asia, and aes­thet­ics. He’s at work on a book about Los Ange­lesA Los Ange­les Primer. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.


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Comments (7)
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  • Ted Lemon says:

    This is a great pre­sen­ta­tion. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, it’s already been proven wrong, because data and pow­er are not equiv­a­lent. Data secu­ri­ty can­not be deliv­ered as eas­i­ly as pow­er can; cloud com­put­ing is a great way to have your crown jew­els stolen. It does work for cer­tain sorts of appli­ca­tions, but is not gen­er­al­ly applic­a­ble, even though its pro­po­nents would very much like us to believe it is. I use a “cloud” ser­vice; I don’t put any­thing on it that could cost me mon­ey if it were stolen.

    • Johnny says:

      It is a util­i­ty. But as you say there is the issue of trust. And that comes from reli­a­bil­i­ty and secu­ri­ty. nnOnce peo­ple start see­ing cloud ser­vices as secure and reli­able the mass adop­tion will begin.nnIm sure it was the same with elec­tric­i­ty and water sup­ply too.

      • Ted Lemon says:

        If peo­ple see cloud ser­vices as reli­able and secure when they aren’t, that’s a bad out­come. And at present they aren’t, for a vari­ety of rea­sons.

  • David Bradley says:

    Thomas Edi­son did not invent the light­bulb, there were a cou­ple of dozen that pre-dat­ed his com­mer­cial­ly suc­cess­ful ver­sion.

  • josef wier says:

    Stephen­n­Fry is tru­ly amaz­ing, though I donu2019t know about its user friend­li­ness. His tone­nis per­fect. How­ev­er, only artists know about true art, thatu2019s whynBroadcast2world has that par­tic­u­lar finesse that ensures ani­mat­ed videos get annap­plause that I got for my com­pa­ny. I donu2019t know if any do it your­self meth­od­snwould receive it, or be so mem­o­rable. nThe prob­lem with the lat­ter approach is that peo­ple might remem­ber thenan­i­ma­tion but for­get the brand.

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