To the Cloud: Big Data in a Turbulent World by Vincent Mosco


  • Alexander Fink Youth Studies, University of Minnesota



cloud computing, informatics, community, algorithms, machine learning, big data


Vincent Mosco begins and ends To The Cloud: Big Data in a Turbulent World by exploring metaphors about clouds and applying them to cloud computing. These metaphors offer a way into understanding the history of cloud computing: where it came from, why it began, how its evolved, and the ways it works in our everyday lives. He draws on literature, including a book entitled The Cloud of Unknowing by a medieval English monk (pg. 13). As I write this, I switch over to my streaming music service momentarily and discover it playing a song of the same name, this time by a contemporary artist, James Blackshaw. Given that I’d heard of neither the song nor artist until this very moment, this makes me a bit suspicious about how closely I’m being watched by my music player. Was it reading my email? Did it discover my notes, uploaded to the cloud on Evernote? Does it know this book was shipped to me? It’s almost difficult to believe it is complete coincidence.  And yet this is one of the promises of the cloud and big data - a world where what we want (even when we didn’t know we wanted it) is at our finger tips exactly when we want it.

Author Biography

Alexander Fink, Youth Studies, University of Minnesota

I am a Ph.D. student in Youth Studies at the University of Minnesota. I also host the Open Knowledge Cast ( I study methods of making research to document injustice and resistance available to young people to create social change. My particular focus is on the political economy and ecology of data, including data collection, data use, data access/sharing, data economics, and the ideologies surrounding it.