A high-tech cloud hangs over us all

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A high-tech cloud hangs over us all


“Wun-jip-mu-san” is a Chinese phrase meaning that people come together in swarms like gathering clouds and disperse like fog. This is a good expression because clouds form when water vapor condenses onto tiny dust particles floating in the air and a haze is formed when the clouds disperse. A cloud hides the sun from view, but a haze disappears in the sunlight. The nature of a cloud is that it drifts without destination and changes shape many times. The Korean expression “life is like a flying cloud” originates from this.

Clouds lie on the border between this world and the next. At a very high altitude, where vapor cannot go any farther, ice crystals are created. For human beings, the border is the gate to eternity. In the West, it’s called “cloud nine,” and Dante, who wrote the “Divine Comedy,” called it the ninth heaven, where the angels dwell. It is also called the purified heaven, which is right next to the tenth heaven, where the Holy Trinity resides.

For human beings, who cannot go up to the sky, it is the highest level they can attain. Therefore, “to be on cloud nine” in English means to feel extreme happiness.

The tenth place in Buddhism uses a similar distinction. The ninth place, which comes right below it, is right at the gate of Nirvana. Once one arrives at it, one will become free from all sorts of greed, selfish interests and desires.

In the world of information technology, the “cloud” has become a hot topic. Cloud computing refers to a system in which software and data are stored on a remote high-capacity server, instead of a local computer or smartphone, and provided on-demand via a network.

On Monday, Steve Jobs of Apple announced the launch of the company’s iCloud computing system. That heralded a “cloud war” of sorts with Google, which provides the Chrome operating system.

The introduction of cloud computing also indicates that the fragile coexistence of network providers, device makers and content providers has been broken and the age of limitless competition has begun. I hate to think what this will do to the IT industry.

For consumers, however, cloud computing seems to be a positive addition to our already high-tech world.

I hope that the IT industry figures out how to come together like the clouds it is trying to create in order to improve life for us all.

*The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

By Park Jong-kwon
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