Clouds are fuzzy. They have shifting dimensions and indistinct edges. They are vague shapes, so they make for vague metaphors. Computing needs metaphors to make it legible: it is hard to describe what happens inside or between computers without them. The cloud symbol was used as early as 1970 in technical diagrams to represent telephone or computer networks. Today, the cloud has become the master metaphor for a global archipelago of warehouses that collectively coordinate most of the world’s computing power. This issue will explore tech’s many clouds and the interesting, hopeful, or destructive shapes they make in the literal and figurative sky.
What’s in a Cloud?
An investigation into everybody’s favorite way to build software.
The next frontier of platform capitalism is carbon management.
A climate-fiction story about mundane apocalypses.
A polemic against rationalization.
A reflection on user experience and disability.
Untangling the satellite imagery supply chain.
Deciphering the informational arcana of public records.
A reflection on the rise of the cloud from somebody who experienced it firsthand.