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Wake Forest
University Press

Wake Forest University Press

Dedicated to Irish Poetry

Wake: Up to Poetry

"The act of poetry is a rebel act."

Storing “Stuff” in the Cloud

Amazon announced today a new service for customers called the “Cloud Drive” and “Cloud Player.”

MP3 purchasers can now have 5 GB of free storage online and can download this music to a multitude of devices, as long as they have a web browser. This way, we don’t have to use up our own storage space for our music files, and now we can just pull music out of “the cloud” when and where we want it.

What is “the cloud” exactly? In some ways, I feel like it’s just a fancy word for a gigantic web of servers that hold tons of information in no particular order. Info is tagged in such a way that we can supposedly retrieve it in an intuitive manner. But what does this mean for our culture? Are we moving away from having real possessions into only having virtual possessions? Is this convenient? Or just creepy? All “the cloud” makes me think of is a swirling mass of dark grey matter that sucks stuff into it and spits it back out somewhere completely different. Or maybe that’s just my Kansas upbringing talking. . .

I can see this mode being applied to books. In some ways, it’s already happening. When you buy e-books from Barnes and Noble or Amazon, they can be stored online so as not to take up too much space on your e-reader. We have a choice for what we want to “carry” around with us electronically, yet we always have access. As someone who has burdened my friends and family with large stacks of heavy book boxes every time I have moved since I left my childhood home, I can see the value of having my books exist in a weightless cloud that follows me wherever I go.

On the other hand, that might be more valuable if I actually hung on to books that I don’t want to read again or that don’t mean anything to me. Nearly all the books I own are on my shelves because they’ve earned their place there. At least once a year, I clean out my shelves and take my unwanted books to a used book store. Why would I want to take up the space with books that I’m done with? Why would I even want to take up virtual space with these books? Does it really make us feel better to know that this information is just “out there” whether we want to use it again or not? Maybe I’m special.

Or maybe I’m crazy. All I know is that when it comes time to move, I take the most time and pleasure packing up my book boxes. As I pick up each book, I remember how I felt when I first read it. I remember where I bought it or how I heard about it. I remember details about where I was when I read it, on vacation or at home, inside or outside. And when I pack it in the box, it’s like making a renewed commitment to carry it with me wherever I go. Maybe I am crazy. But I think most readers feel the same way about their favorite books.

-Amanda K.

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