In Ancient Greek mythology Zeus performed the dual role of King of the Gods and Storms. Being a God of Storms was pretty handy, particularly as humans frequently misbehaved and displeased him. Zeus would exact his revenge by reaching for a thunderbolt, gather up the storm clouds and pummel the mortals below.
In the Bible, clouds were believed to contain angels watching over humankind. The clouds were a place of peace and tranquillity and one where your soul could rest for eternity.
Clouds are symbolic, often referenced by artists, singers and writers. ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’, wrote Wordsworth. The artist John Constable, influenced by meteorology, produced many oil paintings of landscapes and clouds and enjoyed studying the atmosphere. The singer Carly Simon sang about clouds in her coffee and the Rolling Stones wanted people to ‘Get off of My Cloud.
There is even a cloud appreciation society whose purpose is to promote an interest in clouds.
The clouds are a popular place in time and space but they don’t contain Zeus, Michael, Raphael or Gabriel. These days they are called Google, Amazon and Microsoft.
The cloud, in terms of technology, is a metaphor for the Internet and storage space. The logo for Cloud Computing is a puffy cloud which represents a diagram of networks. Google have used Cloud computing for quite a few years with their Gmail and Google Docs software. These services are not available on your computer, you can’t download them from anywhere or install them from a disk. You have to create an account with Google in order to access them. Many other companies have promoted similar services including Amazon, Adobe, Microsoft and Apple. Many businesses are saving their documents to The Cloud rather than on their workplace servers and computers. The Cloud is considered the future of computer storage and software.
Yet what is it about clouds that inspires devotion in technology gurus, artists and religions? Why should a bunch of servers located all around the world be unified under the concept of a cloud? Why do condensed water droplets represent anything?
I believe that clouds are significant because they carry our dreams and ideals, our past and our future. We reference clouds in religion, art and technology to explain something intangible. We have looked up at the clouds throughout history because they are occupied by an evolving and constant companion called inspiration. Without inspiration there would be nothing to write, sing or talk about. Like a cloud, inspiraton will vaporise if you try to touch it. Inspiraton remains mystical, whimsical, unpredictable and scattered and best left in the clouds.