Property Is Not the Right MetaphorBy http://profile.typepad.com/1237764140s22740 // June 22, 2011 in Cloud
As a society, we haven't yet found an adequate metaphor for the disparate interests that mash together in the data centers of cloud providers.
The New York Times reported Tuesday that the FBI had seized servers in a data center in Virginia, causing the businesses of several (apparently) non-targeted companies to go offline:
"Mr. Ostroumow said that the F.B.I. was only interested in one of the company’s clients but had taken servers used by 'tens of clients.' He wrote: 'After F.B.I.’s unprofessional "work" we can not restart our own servers, that’s why our website is offline and support doesn’t work.' The company’s staff had been working to solve the problem for the previous 15 hours, he said."
He may have also said that "our attorney is also at work."
A root problem may be that we're taking property metaphors too much to heart and don't have ways to think about the appropriate workings of police power in the cloud. The metaphor of property doesn't really apply. A server is not a house, or an apartment, or a garage, or a trunk, or even a cell phone. While a given server in a data center has physical dimensions, it functions more as a kind of anti-property. It's a curious thing, to have the form of an object, while representing something without a fixed location, a place in space.
I don't know what the right metaphor is but my sense is we should shift the police power back to a focus on persons and their offline habitats and away from the cloud.