Surviving the Crowded Cloud - Steve Rosenbaum

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Let's face it - we've all got too much digital stuff. Old emails, multiple copies of CD's, photo libraries, .mov's, old drafts of papers. Our hard drives runneth over. And then some.

So, the promise of infinite storage in the cloud is pretty alluring. But is it?

Already, it seems, we're faced with a crowded cloud.

My first hint that I wasn't going to live forever in digital nirvana came in the form of an email from Google telling me I'd used up all my free storage on Gmail. Well, that was a shock, since I'd somehow thought that Gmail was always going to be free and have unlimited storage. Of course, that was never the deal - but somehow 7gb seemed like more than I'd ever need.

But the email was pretty firm:You have run out of space for your Gmail account. You will not be able to send or receive any emails until you delete some items.

Ok, fine. But an hour later and despite 'special operators', I wasn't able to tell Gmail to delete all emails before a certain time, or with certain parameters. I did try - and I'm sure there's a way. But Google is happy to sell me more storage, and frankly that seems so much easier. It's kind of like the boxes of stuff I have at Manhattan Mini storage. Sure I could throw things away, but renting another storage unit is so much easier. Google knows this too. But it's just too painful to realize that I'm going to have to start paying Google for the privilege of getting junk mail.

The good news is that Apple has a cloud of its own. And I've got my my brand-new super swanky iPhone 4s with iCloud. I connect my music, my apps, my devices, or documents, and sure enough there I am - 5 GB later. Apple would like me to, you guessed it, buy more storage.

So my Google Gmail is full. My Apple iCloud is full. All I need to do swipe the credit card to buy more storage so that I can keep filling up the cloud forever.

It was probably too good to be true. The promise of the cloud meets the reality of the massive explosion in data creation. And the truth is, I'm making plenty of data without any help from Google or Apple.

The Cloud is getting crowded, and expensive. Not only do I not want to put everything in the Cloud, but I want to have the tools to take things out selectively. I want only the best of the best - only the music I listen to, only the pictures I really like, just the documents that really matter. So before you go and assume that the Cloud is this infinite, fluffy, free fillable space - just take a look at the bills that you're getting from Apple and Google and just keep in mind the cloud is already charging you a toll.

The next chapter in cloud technology is going to be tools to manage what goes up, how long it stays there, and how it can be edited shared, and removed. Cloud Curation is more that pushing things into the digital storage locker. Pruning and filtering is going to be critical as well.

Steve Rosenbaum is founder and CEO of, and the Author of the recently released McGrawHill Business book "Curation Nation" (March / 2011). Steve can be contacted at Follow Steve Rosenbaum on Twitter:

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