Charlie Leadbeater has a terrific post on the threats posed by the fact that The Cloud (as in “cloud computing”) too often actually is a recentralizing of the Net by profit-seeking companies.
The easiest example cited by Charlie is Google Books, which provides a tremendous service but at the social cost of giving a single company control over America’s digital library. The problem here isn’t capitalism but monopolization; an open market in which other organizations could (the pragmatic “could,” not the legal or science fiction “could”) also offer access to scanned libraries would create a cloud of books not solely controlled by any single company. (The Google Books settlement threatens to rule out competition because without an equivalent agreement with publishers and authors, any other organization that scans and provides access to books runs the strong risk of being sued for copyright infringement, especially when it comes to books whose copyright holders are hard to find. The revision of the Settlement is less egregiously monopolistic.)