So, I’ve got files stashed in Windows Live SkyDrive and multiple Google Docs accounts, photos on Picasaweb, myriad transient stuff in Dropbox, and videos stashed away on YouTube. I’ve got most of my electronic life up in the cloud these days, which is great! I can get at whatever I want from wherever I have an Internet connection, and how often am I away from the Internet? Want to show pictures of my kid to the newbie at work? Log in to picasaweb.com and I can bore him at will. At the supermarket and need to by the ingredients for the family BBQ sauce recipe (which I don’t have memorized)? Docs.google.com from my Droid mobile, login and there’s the recipe. Video of strange lights in the sky over lake Mooselookmeguntic? Youtube.com (I don’t actually believe in little green men).
The problem with all this is that there is no “cloud.” There are “clouds” and to figure out which one to go for what can be a royal PITA. In fits of frustration, I sometimes I shake my fist at the sky and rant about the need to give the clouds more structure and shape.
Then I had this brilliant idea: wouldn’t it be great if I could access all my stuff in the cloud as easily as I can find things on my laptop? Something that gave me icons for my hosted apps and let me query across all of my cloud accounts from a simple search box to find what I’m looking for. “Oh, boy!” I thought, “I’m gonna be the next Mark Zuckerberg!” Then I did a few quick searches and found JoliCloud
--Your desktop in the cloud
. Deflated, I decided to download it and give it a whirl.
Once installed, Jolicloud got me a nice smartphone-like grid of app-like links to a few presuggested resources. Not much different from Chrome’s Apps, I thought. Then I found a screen that let me see my Dropbox and Windows Live Skydrive files, side by side, from one interface. Ah, things were getting interesting. There's still no unified cross-cloud search, though.
I'm sure the good folks at JoliCloud have thought this, too, and I'm sure the reason is neither technical in nature nor a lack of creativity. This gaping hole in the cloud is likely--in my somewhat cynical opinion-- purely economic and political. Could be that different cloud vendors, who are often competitors, might be reluctant to simplify your life in ways that might obscure their brand by making their service just another resource in someone else's interface. Hard to sell ads in that universe.
So the quest continues for the perfect cloud desktop tool but for the time being, JoliCloud, however, has moved the ball forward and they are definitely a service I'll keep on my radar and a new JoliCloud is in beta testing as I type, so stay tuned.. Exciting time, indeed.