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Tech Giants Rely on Big Lies — and We Fall for Them

Tech Giants Rely on Big Lies — and We Fall for Them

From ‘the cloud’ to ‘free’ services, we’ve been conned by tech babble.

Just stop it with ‘the cloud.’ Illustration by Christopher Cheung.

Remember when we spent our days “surfing” the “information superhighway?” 

The 1990s dotcom bubble, when some tech companies spent as much as 90 per cent of their budgets on advertising, brought a flood of hype-driven technobabble designed to lure venture capitalists.

Twenty years later, some tech giants have revenues greater than the GDPs of small countries and have the power to influence election outcomes in major ones.

The need to cut through the hype churned out by the tech giants’ marketing departments has become even more acute.

Here are three techno-utopic terms we should ban in the 2020s.

1. There is no ‘cloud’ 

“The cloud,” we should have learned by now, simply means “someone else’s computer” (and not necessarily someone trustworthy).

The term is brilliant branding. Selling people on “cloud storage” is a lot easier than convincing them to hand over all their data to a corporation.

And the idea makes sense. With the advent of wide access to high-speed connectivity, it’s efficient — and cheaper — to shift storage and processing from individual devices to central sites.

But there is no safe, secure cloud. Security breaches have exposed millions of users’ accounts — on DropboxAmazonGoogle and others. Companies have handed files over to authorities, sometimes without a fuss or a word. And Edward Snowden has revealed practically limitless government spying on data moving through the internet.

Where data ends up, how it gets there, and the laws and security processes that govern both are pretty darned important.

The clouds, where the gods live, have always been humanity’s favourite storage place for all that is out of reach of questioning and understanding.

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