I read an article a few years ago about someone noticing a cyclical trend in computing: going from dumb-terminal-connected-to-mainframe to personal-computing and now back to cloud computing.

I’ve always loved the idea of creating a website, since I made my first one on an IBM ThinkPad running Windows 95 in 5th grade. It was both my foray into “programming” (just HTML, not much javascript) and sharing something I’ve created with the world. I’ve held on to that feeling through all the websites I’ve made since then; the feeling of looking at my own creation, that I could change at any time to my liking. Like a painting that never dries, and is on constant display in space— where anyone in the world can see it. This is quite the image of grandeur, but one that attracts me to what I do, despite missing the hubris to match up.

So when new services come about—ones that allow you to create something, especially—I’m instantly hesitant to trust them completely with my data. Back in “the day,” any Myspace designs would be best hosted on my own site, in case / when they change the design. Important Twitter-like statuses are best stored on my local machine. I can only use Dropbox knowing those files are actually saved on my computers, and not purely on their servers.

It’s this visceral feeling that makes me uneasy and mostly apprehensive towards the longevity of activities I partake in on the internet. Some creations aren’t as important as others: I won’t miss a Facebook status disappearing into the great /dev/null in the sky, but some products of using these platforms (a Facebook note, for example) are worth keeping, and it’d be nice to know they’re safely on one of my own hard drives.

In my own case, there’s LunchTable: users post statuses (long and short) and interact with each other, adding to a group’s conversation what is necessary or interesting. They have the ability to create something they otherwise can’t in offline software— but why shouldn’t they reap the benefits of both worlds? With LunchBox, the accompanying open source project for using exported LunchTable data, I’m hoping to encourage users to both create something meaningful and feel like they’re not dependent on a service to forever access their own data. It’s a trend I would love to see more of.

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