After attending a session with me this summer, my 5.5 years old daughter started to use "You can do everything in the cloud!" as a mantra. Of course, my 8.5 years old son immediately got interested. We got to the question very soon: "Mom, what's the Cloud?"
I sit down with him, and thought explaining Cloud as a HUUUUUGE data storage first would do. The discussion went like this:
"You know, we can store documents on the computer. For example, a book you read on your Kindle is a document. Or the English puzzles you get from your teacher are documents, too. My presentations are documents. When you write your homework, that's a document, too."
I showed him my D:\Documents folder, with thousands of files.
"You see how many documents I have? Imagine my laptop's storage like a box. It has limited capacity. It can get full. If I wanted to store more documents, I would need a new laptop or at least a new storage.But look, this is Daddy's big computer which is called 'server'. It has no screen, no keyboard at all. But I can connect there and can use its storage from my laptop. Look, these documents are stored on Daddy's server."
His question: "And can I open the very same documents from Daddy's laptop, too?"
"Exactly! If you had a laptop, you could use the server's storage, too. The documents stored there can be opened from any laptop that is connected to our home network."
After giving it some thoughts: "Mom, does this means if you buy a new laptop, you can keep working on the same documents if there're stored on the server?"
"So if Daddy had stored his documents on the server, he would have not lost anything when his laptop got stolen, right?"
"But we need to get connected to our home network."
Then I continued:
"Imagine huge, HUGE storages somewhere abroad. You don't even have to know where they are. You can store your documents there instead of Daddy's server. You can store much more documents there than on my laptop, even more than on Daddy's server. Imagine this huge storage is a kind of unlimited. And you can get connected from everywhere, not only from our home network."
"Yes, from everywhere. This is called Cloud. You don't know where it is, you cannot touch it like my laptop or Daddy's server - but you can use its storage in a very similar way. From my laptop, from Daddy's laptop, even from my phone. Look, these documents here on my mobile are the same as on my laptop. If I create a new one, it shows up here immediately, too. My phone is not connected to my laptop, but both of them are connected to the Cloud."
"Mom, this is very cool!"
"Yes, it is."
After some thinking: "So you store everything you work on in the cloud?"
"How about privacy? If someone goes to the cloud and want to steal your content?"
"Very good question! Data stored in the Cloud is not public. It's protected at least by a password, but you can set it up to send a code to your phone, too. You're the only one who knows your password, and your phone is supposed to be with you when you log in."
"So this is something like a HUGE, protected computer storage that I can use..."
"Mom, can I use the Cloud for SERVICES, too? I mean, your laptop has not only a storage but can process things, too. I can play on it, I can use the Calculator, I can send emails... Can I do the same things in the Cloud, too?"
This was the point when I got VERY impressed. These little men get these things so easily!!!
I explained that the answer is more than Yes! His emails are actually also in the Cloud. My web site is in the Cloud, too. He can publish his Scratch projects to the cloud. He can use the Cloud for VERY complex calculations. Etc. etc. etc.
It's still not the end of our discussion, I'm pretty sure. He's a smart boy and the Cloud is something very interesting for him. Next time, I'm going to share how he explained Cloud to Grandma, a few days after this discussion. Stay tuned ;-)