In this post I work with the idea of “digital belongings” to define Cloud-based goods.
In an earlier post I wrote of “digital belongings” like this:
Now digital belongings are things I own made of bits. In the world of Cloud-based apps my digital belongings include my tweets and Facebook status updates and avatars and everything else I can create with them.
Once upon a time “things I own made of bits” consisted of software applications and data on my hard drive. For example, Word and the documents I created with it. In the world of Cloud-based computing the key difference, it seems to me, is that I don’t own the software – I pay for access to it. In some cases (many?) the basic payment is zero. I don’t pay, for example, to use the basic service at Flickr, nor to have an account at Facebook. So that part of my digital belongings goes away.
So we’re left with my Cloud-based digital belongings being data created by me (Flickr photos, YouTube videos, avatars) that I own or data not created by me that I own and some of those are virtual goods.
Here’s the Wikipedia has to say about virtual goods, which is fine by me:
Virtual goods are non-physical objects that are purchased for use in online communities or online games.
Digital goods are software programs, music, videos or other electronic files that users download exclusively from the Internet
But what about Flickr photos and YouTube videos that I upload? The Terms of Service (TOS) points out that the services do not own the “content” I upload. But calling it just “content” misses the mark a little bit, I think.
Digital photos can be goods (after all, people sell digital photos). Videos can be goods. I upload my videos to YouTube and they store them and let them be played and that’s for free, but they get the ability to put pop-up ads on my videos (never mind the “worldwide, non-exclusive, royalty-free, sublicenseable and transferable license.”) So I see it as a trade. But what about the comments I put on the videos? YouTube also treats those as part of what it calls the User Submissions. I create them within the Cloud-based application that is YouTube.
Which brings us back to the this part of the definition of digital belongings:
… In the world of Cloud-based apps my digital belongings include my tweets and Facebook status updates and avatars and everything else I can create with them.
I therefore propose to call all of this stuff “Cloud-based goods.” In other words; my Cloud-based digital belongings are goods I own that exist in the Cloud, created by me or not. These include my uploaded photos, videos, documents etc., digital goods I bought in the Cloud that stay in the Cloud (which includes virtual goods) and goods I created in a Cloud-based application (like my Facebook profile or my tweets). Some of them may become digital goods.
This definition ties back to my definition of what I called [Personal] data. I don’t want to repeat that definition because I don’t want to muddy the waters now I have this new and improved definition but there is a link.