Day 2 of Camp KDE kicked off with a bang when Frank Karlitschek announced the start of a significant new KDE project. The ownCloud initiative will complement the Social Desktop and Get Hot New Stuff efforts which are already dealing with social and collaborative data. Like those, the ownCloud initiative strives to combine the rich desktop interfaces made possible by the Qt and KDE libraries with the large amount of social information and data users are putting online.
Traditionally, a user has been limited to the data on the device he/she is using. Recently this has changed with the introduction of a variety of online services such as Last.fm, Pandora, Facebook and flickr – a significant portion of data is now in the cloud rather than local hosted. ownCloud will allow users more freedom in choosing and changing services, even in running their own hosted services.
The advantages of storing data in the cloud are many: ubiquitous access to data from multiple devices, social interaction with millions of others on the web and no extra software to install. However, the data is often owned by several different organizations, which don’t easily allow interaction or sharing of data among them. A blog hosted on Blogger is very difficult to connect with pictures hosted by Yahoo; sending an email from Gmail to all Facebook contacts is currently impossible and Hotmail users cannot access a Google Documents file without creating a Google account. Besides these convenience issues, there are also problems with privacy and security as well as the potential for one hardware failure to make the data of thousands of users impossible to access. Taken together, the cloud is not perfect.
Having an open platform for cloud services such as social network technologies, online communities, and online storage provides possibilities beyond what current proprietary service providers can offer. ownCloud aims to give everybody a personal cloud, letting them store, share and interact with their data from everywhere. But unlike competing implementations, ownCloud allows the user to easily mash up and connect data from different providers, decide where his or her data is stored and even run their own cloud server to keep things completely under their control. Continue reading.