I’ve found personal benefit to moving more and more of my information into “the cloud”. Web-based tools like Google Docs, Twitter, wordpress, delicious, etc. provide the freedom to access my resources regardless of device. The development of smart phones over the last several years makes this model of data creation/access particularly valuable. With MobileMe and LiveMesh, we get the additional value of being able to store resources – via the cloud – across multiple devices. Good ol’ redundancy. All is not well, however. Jonathan Zittrain states:
But the most difficult challenge — both to grasp and to solve — of the cloud is its effect on our freedom to innovate. The crucial legacy of the personal computer is that anyone can write code for it and give or sell that code to you — and the vendors of the PC and its operating system have no more to say about it than your phone company does about which answering machine you decide to buy…This freedom is at risk in the cloud, where the vendor of a platform has much more control over whether and how to let others write new software.
An API is at best a pacifier to sedate the majority, but it is a far cry from open source. To paraphrase Mark Pilgrim: open enough works for running programs now, but it is a long term sacrifice of freedom.