The Personal Cloud

Benedict Evans coined the term “personal cloud” in his writeup of WWDC in June. He said:

what you might call the personal cloud – the Bluetooth LE/Wifi mesh around you (such as HealthKit or HomeKit)

I like to think about what’s next.

Paul Graham said, “If you think of technology as something that’s spreading like a sort of fractal stain, almost every point on the edge represents an interesting problem.”

And in that context, the personal cloud is a particularly interesting “point on the edge” to me. It includes the following things:

1) NFC and other technologies that will turn the mobile phone into your next credit card

2) Phone to phone mesh networking like we saw with Fire Chat in Hong Kong a few weeks ago

3) Wearables like the watch, necklace, and earbud

4) Personal health data recording (HealthKit) in which your phone has a real time and historical chart of your heartbeat, blood chemistry, blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and much more.

5) Airplay and Chromecast and other technologies that will turn the mobile phone into both the next settop box and remote

I could probably go on and list another five things that fit into the personal cloud, but I will stop there.

If the first wave of the mobile phone’s impact on the tech sector was driven by applications running on the phone, the second wave will be driven by the phone connecting to other devices, including other phones.

I am particularly fascinated about what happens when our phones connect to other phones in dense environments and form meshes that don’t need the traditional Internet connectivity to power them. Mesh networks don’t just solve the problem of lack of traditional connectivity (Hong Kong), they also produce a solution to the last mile connectivity duopoly in wireline and oligopoly in wireless. In the future we may just opt out of those non-competitive markets and opt into a local mesh to get us to the Internet backbone, both in our homes and when we are out and about.

And phone to phone meshes form local “geofenced” networks that are interesting in their own right. A nice example of this is the peek feature in Yik Yak where you can see the timeline at various universities around the US. These Yik Yak peeks are not powered by mesh networking, they are just using the geolocation feature on the phone. But they could be a collection of mesh networks operating in various universities around the country. And so that example is enlightening to me.

I wanted to end this post with an image of a person walking down the street surrounded by their personal cloud and all the devices that are connected to it. But a quick image search did not produce it for me. That in and of itself is telling. That’s our future. But right now we are still in the imagining phase of it.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Ed Freyfogle

    Question – do you see one company owning all this (which the giants like Google, Apple, DropBox, etc all seem to be striving for), or will there be a role for a trusted intermediary that does nothing but serve as interface layer to all of them?Here’s an example of a start-up trying to be the intermediary (perhaps nto the exact vision you describe, but similar). Amongst other things they offer a service called “personal cloud”.… Disclosure, I’m a minor investor.

    1. fredwilson

      i think it will be a free for all

      1. William Mougayar

        I think it will be appified, simplified….or integrated into the iPhone / Apple Watch if brought to you by Apple.

  2. Twain Twain

    I started thinking about this idea of the “personal cloud” about 5 years ago in connection with a “Personal Data Pod” idea my friends and I thought about making.This was wherein we consumers own our personal data on a wearable device (like the communications badge/pin on Star Trek) and we could beam up our personal data to that ambient personal cloud which would indeed be geo-fenced.I understood the geo-fencing part because Qualcomm sent their lawyers to try and acquire some IP of mine for a geo-fencing platform they later launched.Anyway, consumers would have control over their personal data which they’d beam up to the personal cloud (of whatever brands and services they’d chosen). The brand would make them a micropayment, possibly in Bitcoins, to access that personal data — which might include if they were a woman looking for a new pair of shoes that were gold and in a certain price range.Then the cloud services provider would send the relevant targeted ad with a discount coupon.So that was our Personal Data Pod wearable tech + Cloud services idea 5 years ago.

    1. fredwilson

      great minds …….

      1. Twain Twain

        Oh and I do have a graphic I did of that idea but it’s not public.Because I fused it into the system I ended up building.

      2. Twain Twain

        This is a graphic of how I envisioned the tech integration would work.The brands would be up in the Cloud via Open API.

        1. fredwilson

          yeah, the image i was thinking about was very different than this

          1. Twain Twain

            Yes. And there’s the interoperability issue between devices from different manufacturers (who have no interest in letting their competitors access personal data sets on their devices) as well as security and privacy and a few other layers of protocols and data structures that are not yet in place and need to be provided by W3C…Means it will be a while before we have integration of data, IoT, cloud services etc. in this mesh (aka “the Matrix”).

          2. leigh

            that’s why wearable would work bc you are right it’s too complex with the privacy needs etc. to deal with mobile devices. We had a ‘server’ in your pocket that worked (it was a personal identity type of thing that actually fit on a usb stick) i think that well designed would work much better and solves some of the technical issues (other than it goes on and off and needs wireless to work)

          3. falicon

            I believe the image of the future is more like this ->…The tech and the devices are invisible to the naked eye and out of the way – people fall back to being people driven by and making things happen through conversation. The invisible tech allows for more intelligent and deeper conversations with a wider range of people…but it still ends up being all about the people 😉

          4. Twain Twain

            It’s in our ears and voice-controlled like in ‘Her’!

          5. ShanaC

            I like that future

    2. William Mougayar

      Great vision, and this would need to get really really simplified from a usage point of view in order for it to work for the average consumer. That’s something that Apple has an edge over Google with.

      1. Twain Twain

        Yes and also for the retailer so they’d know which consumer coming through the door’s going to BUY rather than just browse.So… the wearable device changes color:* Green = buy* Red = browseThis choice would be voice-activated by the consumer on the threshold of the store.The NFC in the store’s payments system would pick up this color signal.Then sales assistants would know specifically who they should be helping to close the sales — instead of pestering random customers about whether or not they need help.Hey, I think I am going to make this IoT device and sell it as a style badge!

  3. LIAD

    not mailing it in today!gave us a 7-course brain feast to munch on

    1. fredwilson

      can’t mail it in every day

  4. William Mougayar

    You can add to this list personal robotics, i.e. smart things that will do stuff for us, around us or remotely.Actually, if you google “Consumer cloud” instead of “personal cloud” you would see some references and images somehow related to this.I wrote in July about the “consumer cloud”, and called this whole direction as the new “User Stack”, basically saying that our user experience with the web and technology is about to get more complicated, and it covers 5 areas: 1) consumer cloud, 2) self-quantification, 3) smartification of things, 4) cryptocurrencies, 5) personal robotics.http://startupmanagement.or…These solutions will be new, fragmented and decentralized. They’ll become easier to use as they get appified and simplified (e.g. FireChat).

    1. fredwilson

      The personal robot I want is the robotic cat. Cats are great at keeping mice out of your home. But I am allergic to them as is Gotham Gal and our kids. The answer is the robotic cat!

      1. JimHirshfield

        This implies that you have a mouse problem, and you therefore just asked for a better mousetrap?

        1. fredwilson

          i don’t. but my daughter who lives in Brooklyn does. and a friend who has a house in Maine has field mice in the winter when the house is closed up. that would be a great application for the robotic cat.

          1. William Mougayar

            You have Sam mesmerized.

          2. awaldstein

            Sam had me at meow.

          3. JimHirshfield

            We’ve had mice in the past (100 yr old farm caretaker’s house). Tried a couple different things before reluctantly using poison.

          4. PhilipSugar

            I’ll drop some red-neck high tech on you:Take a five gallon plastic bucket. Smear the inside of the top rim with peanut butter, pour 1/2 gallon of the non poisonous RV antifreeze in the bottom. Put where you have mice and put a couple of boards up to the bucket. Mice fall in drown, antifreeze keeps them from stinking.Real fancy red-necks take a coffee can with a broom stick through it, two holes at the top of the bucket.I live in a 175 year old house, when I was having my kitchen totally redone the contractor noticed I had mice, he brought the “bucket”

          5. fredwilson

            wow. that’s quite a solution

          6. PhilipSugar

            I am telling you it works like no other solution. My brother in law laughed and when he got mice in the garage after several other attempts he finally tried it.Traps don’t work and sometimes don’t kill the mice, poison leaves them to rot if you can’t find them, and you can’t have other animals, and even I can’t stand the glue.This works and because of their respiratory rate it is very quick. Surprisingly you have to put liquid in the bottom or they can jump out. You can use water if you don’t have the antifreeze, but antifreeze is much better especially if it is a summer house.

          7. LE

            Would look really nice in your townhouse … better than a coffee table book.

          8. William Mougayar

            From personal clouds to killing mice…Who would have made that connection! only on

          9. JimHirshfield

            Thanks. I’ve read something like that before. I don’t get this part:”…take a coffee can with a broom stick through it, two holes at the top of the bucket.”Is that a makeshift tool for fishing them out of the bigger bucket?

          10. PhilipSugar

            No imagine it like a Ferris Wheel of doom at the top of the bucket. Mice jump onto the coffee can to get the peanut butter it spins and they go into the bottom of the bucket.

          11. JimHirshfield

            Ah, so evil. Now I understand.More like treadmill of death.

          12. William Mougayar

            how about mouse traps?

          13. fredwilson

            they work

          14. sigmaalgebra

            Field mice are not completely stupid, you know! There are plenty of field mice within 100 yards of my house, but I have no field mice problem in the house. But, then, I have two kitty cats, one of whom is any small rodent’s worst nightmare. Once he brought in a half grown wild rabbit! I let the rabbit go outside; I hope he was okay. Yes, sometimes he also leaves me little rodent gifts on the back porch just outside the back door!

      2. William Mougayar

        It exists! You can have Venus, Sakadachi Nyachi or Kitty Cat…Apparently, there’s even a robotic dino, dog, elephant, lion, monkey, penguin, reptile, bear or seal!

        1. JimHirshfield

          Is there also a robotic Priscilla? I’m just asking, uh, for a friend.

        2. fredwilson

          but do they chase the mice away?

          1. William Mougayar

            The “Fred Wilson” feature strikes again :)We’ll have to see how big the market is for people that want a robotic cat than can also chase mice.

          2. LE

            The other thing is if you have a cat to get mice you probably have to leave the claws on in the front (you can’t declaw). Reason is without the claws they will get exhausted like our cat did. But if you leave the front claws on you will suffer plenty of furniture damage it’s kind of a non starter.

      3. LE

        But I am allergic to them as is Gotham Gal and our kids.I was allergic but my new wife had a cat so strangely the allergy doesn’t appear to be active anymore. So the cat we have is definitely helpful for getting mice. One day we woke up and the cat was totally exhausted and slept the entire day from chasing a mouse.Here’s one for you. One night as I was going to sleep I saw a mouse in our bedroom. Small thing. Or maybe it was the den, yeah it was the den actually. Anyway I was faced with a choice. Tell my wife and then be up for the next 2 hours trying to catch it. Or not mention it to her. I choose to not mention it. Would have done the same even without the cat by the way. Nothing to see here, move along. Didn’t bother me. My dad thinks the only purpose of cats is to catch mice. The way it was in the old country.Anyway if you ever see a mouse, whatever you do, don’t tell gotham gal.

      4. William Mougayar

        Just found out about this cool company that Foundry has invested in, Modular Robotics.

  5. Jan Schultink

    Central versus de-central in computing went back and forth: mainframes/terminals, LAN/PCs, work stations, mini computers…..

    1. SubstrateUndertow

      But wasn’t that back and forth about technical efficiency where decentralized data control is about personal autonomy/power ?

      1. Jan Schultink


  6. iggyfanlo

    I think that the “personal cloud” will yield the greatest value of all big data collections. It’s incumbent on leaders today to emphasize that we shouldnt feet over protecting data, but rather protecting people and in that quest we actually free up data to protect and help people

  7. Barry Nolan

    Every time Tim Cook speaks of Apple Watch, it’s prefaced as “The most personal device we’ve ever created.” Watch is a physical manifestation of the personal cloud.This slide from last week’s Keynote illustrates the “highly personalised experiences” companies are creating via the ‘personal cloud’. It’s a whole new set of jobs – letting once inanimate analog devices converse with their owner/masters.

    1. Guest

      (with pic)

      1. JimHirshfield

        Sorry…give it a sec

      2. SubstrateUndertow

        Tic Toc. . . Tic Toc. . .Starting to look like Apple might actually be working to a plan 🙂

  8. Tom Labus

    How does Apple Pay play into this? Seems like a watershed moment

    1. JimHirshfield

      For sure. I think this will be huge for Apple. And a big shift in consumer behavior (which is hard to pull off).

    2. fredwilson

      item 1) in my post

  9. Dan Storms

    At first I thought “no way most people will let others use their phone to aid other phones” but that exactly what Skype does with computers. As long as their is enough value for the individual and the resulting experience is beyond what anyone else can offer, people will opt in (eventually).

    1. JimHirshfield

      Right. It has to be valuable in both directions. IOW, I’d participate and provide value to others AND gain value myself.

    2. fredwilson

      yuppppppp. and bitcoin could provide the economic incentives

      1. Dan Storms

        ooh interesting extension of the concept!

  10. JimHirshfield

    The mesh was also nicely covered in your Video of the Week over the weekend…the interview with Steven Johnson. So, obviously on your mind a lot.

    1. fredwilson

      oooh thanks!

      1. Rick_Robinson


    2. William Mougayar

      pretty good deck! and you wrote it in 2010. Wow.Do you have a blog and write stuff?

      1. Rick_Robinson

        some of this was actually carried over from ideas hatched as protos in the late 90s/early 2000s while at aol (running the local product group, then mobile product group then social)… almost got laughed out of the room in 1999 for advocating a mobile-social personals service based on location (triangulation, not gps ;-)i’ve written about some of this, and additional dynamic/ephemeral “mesh” networks for and occasionally Business Insider.But maybe I need to write more down, more formally, like fred.

        1. William Mougayar

          yes, please write more !

        2. ShanaC

          streeetfightmag is an interesting website. It is odd to watch the falling of the small middle in terms of the publishing

          1. Rick_Robinson

            small middle?

        3. Oscar Jung

          can you update those slides?

          1. Rick_Robinson

            with more predictions? if only this pesky startup was not taking all my time ;-|

  11. JimHirshfield

    I can imagine mesh networks coming in handy in disaster situations. Helping people after a hurricane or earthquake to get help and access to limited resources. Wonder if anyone’s built that yet.

    1. Rick_Robinson

      open garden has

      1. JimHirshfield

        Great to know. Thanks.

    2. LE

      mesh networks coming in handy in disaster situations.Problem is even though it’s helpful it’s kind of like the thing you have in your house that you forget about because it’s buried in a drawer somewhere. It’s out of sight out of mind. Do you even know where the candles are (at your residence) if the power goes out? Issue is that power doesn’t go out enough to even keep that info handy in your brain.How do you get people to be prepared for something that is so rare?

      1. JimHirshfield

        Bad example for me….we have candles in EVERY friggin’ room.And…I always know where my mobile phone is. Awareness of the app, you say? Well, that’s no different than any app or product. Agreed, ya gotta make people aware of it. Challenge for sure.

    3. SubstrateUndertow

      I know there are systems for extending Ham radio reach over the internet but doing a quick search I don’t see any systems that create a Ham radio diver internet infrastructure.That would seem like a potentially useful emergency fallback infrastructure ?

      1. JimHirshfield

        Could be.

  12. American

    Personal cloud? LMAOYou people are living in a land of severe delusion.Hope you can see the masses coming for you.

    1. fredwilson

      french revolution style, right?

      1. American

        With your head in the clouds (“personal”) you’ll never see it coming.

        1. fredwilson

          great point

  13. awaldstein

    I’m all in on this and have been thinking about this for awhile, since an entrepreneur a year ago approached me with an idea to use mesh networks in sports stadiums and drive local sponsorships around them in college towns.And–to my friend @wmoug:disqus -the idea of mesh networks is a no brainer to get the mass market to adopt or understand.Block chain is a brain twister to almost everyone except the technophiles. Mesh networks as something that their phones or watches or whatever can center around is behaviorally a dream to explain.I’d love to hear of people doing interesting things around this now.

    1. William Mougayar

      As I said, all this techno geek talk is just that. None of this will get adopted until it gets appified, simplified, integrated, or part of something else. Consumers want it simple, easy to use, no-brainer to understand, etc…

      1. awaldstein

        Somethings become part of infrastructure and never get understood, branded or believed by the consumer. And still change the world.I think BitCoin may be one of those. You can twist it and roll it up but I am now thinking that it will become integrated and important but not a consumer concept at all.People don’t understand money, they may not for bitcoin as well.Mesh networks on the other hand are as core to behavior and understanding as they can get in a networked worldI can draw the original dancing ipod Apple billboards as a mesh network idea and get the market to understand it in a sec.

        1. fredwilson

          rss is like that. it’s the plumbing for many things but was not a consumer success

          1. awaldstein

            yup–i’m pretty good at building connections and brands and bitcoin carries with it too much friction to stick easily.mesh networking will become common vernacular.i explained it to lianna the other day–power user of everything, technical understanding zero. she got it in a second.

        2. William Mougayar

          But mesh networks as such didn’t start like that. A given app gave it some meaning (eg. FireChat). I bet you most people using it didn’t even know mesh networks were the underlying technology behind it. All they cared is that it was about a new form of powerful communication that government can’t centrally control.

          1. awaldstein

            We are not understanding each other.I’m talking about the core behavioral basis that sits as the connector between consumers and ideas and branded solutions. And correspondingly how you sell them and to whom.You are talking about technology and language and understandingBoth important. Both true. Not the same.

          2. LE

            core behavioral basis that sits as the connector between consumers and ideas and branded solutions.I think that sentence is to complex for the small brain.Anyway if I understand what I think you mean by that the “core behavioral basis” with luli tonix is “people want to be healthy and feel they are making themselves healthy”. Same with Lancaster Bread Company nasty bread (my word..)For some basement waterproofing solution it might be “don’t want a flood in my basement”.The point is: Can you reduce the concept (and the words) down to something that most people can understand, quickly? Can you solve a problem or a need? (This is the issue with bitcoin at the core. You can’t link it to anything that’s a, for lack of a better word, pain point for consumers.)Another example xerox and “xerography”. Weird word but easily understood. Put paper on machine. Hit button. Copy comes out. “Ok I got that I understand”. A 3 year old can work a copy machine. Or my mother. Perhaps even certain dogs.

          3. LE

            All they cared is that it was about a new form of powerful communication that government can’t centrally control.The “n” of “they” is really not large which is the problem. At least in the parts that I live and the age group(s) that I spend most of my time around.

  14. lisa hickey

    Thanks for this post. I needed every word in it, from the fractal stain and points around the edges, to a much deeper understanding of the personal cloud to the “better mousetrap” joke in the comments.I’ve been thinking about how devices can become “virtual memories” for people with Alzheimer’s. A lot of people I know are going through it with their parents, including my mom. So in looking at the people who want to stay functioning for 2 or 3 years longer, a virtual memory device would be a life-changer.But until now, I had been “thinking like an app”, which was limited. So this post is an “aha”.Here are some of the things I could see being useful:1) When wandering lost on a city street say “lost” into your device, which will bring up a street view and guide the person back to their home.2) Management of daily routines: Remember to take pills, remainder are counted. Signal on key that says not only “here are your keys” but “yes the door is locked”.3) Answers to the question “what day is today?” in a myriad of ways. 4) A quick review of yesterdays news before moving on to today’s news. 5) Here’s a big part of it. My mom says the most frustrating thing about having Alzheimer’s is that “I can’t conjure up the pictures in my mind the way I used to.” So a database of pictures — people, places and things — that are tagged with information and appear at the moment you need to remember them would be awesome.6) I am also a firm believer that technology changes the way we think, and with Alzheimer’s patients, really thinking through how technology can help them think better would be such an advancement.Anyway — I this is not even something I am pursuing, just trying to get the idea out there in the world for someone who has resources.But practical applications of abstract technologies and ideas I hope benefits everyone, which I think is the point of your post. Thanks again Fred.

    1. fredwilson

      great ideas need many inputs

    2. bsoist

      Great idea. Thanks for sharing that.

    3. SubstrateUndertow

      As McLuhan pointed out all our technologies extend the powers of human biology but now we’re into technologies that can actually extend mind and memory.

    4. josh20

      I would recommend checking out Andy Clark – he has written a lot about “virtual memories” and how our devices actually become part of our cognitive system.

      1. lisa hickey

        Thanks Josh, will do. I think everyone can (and does) benefit from “virtual memories” — and I totally agree our devices become part of our cognitive system. A rudimentary example is, I remember reading, “you don’t have to remember everything, you just have to remember where you stored it”. That was pre-internet. Search engines allowed us the ability to forget even where we stored the information, because we knew we could find it. And now, of course, as technology evolves, I look for ways for information to find me. But I realize I need to take responsibility for creating the system (digitally and cognitively) for that to happen. Some of my thinking about this came from discussions with Clive Thompson when he was writing his book: “Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing our Minds for the Better”. http://smarterthanyouthink….

  15. pointsnfigures

    When I was at UIllinois in Champaign, kid told me they had developed a mesh network there. The reason, no one can see the ip address-so it’s private and can’t be traced. Lot of kids from China, Pakistan and other countries there where privacy is a bigger deal than the US. Privacy might be the straw that stirs the mesh network drink-especially when it comes to medical information in the personal cloud. I don’t necessarily want my insurance company to know my on the run data.

    1. fredwilson


    2. JamesHRH

      Can someone put MESH into marketing / normal speak?

      1. pointsnfigures

        Fred had a post a while back-…

    3. Frank W. Miller

      Any guesses how long it will take for the carriers to get the app stores to kill this?

    4. SubstrateUndertow

      From Ferd’s post:“If you think of technology as something that’s spreading like a sort of fractal stain, almost every point on the edge represents an interesting problem.”And in that context, the personal cloud is a particularly interesting “point on the edge” to me.I personally want that fractal strain to slowly seep outwards as autonomous personalized power extensions that are centred around my own autonomous local needs and under the control of my own local autonomous devices/controls minimally facilitated by the public cloud as apposed to being owned and operated by a public cloud of corporate/governmental resellers.Apple’s approach seems to have more potential for distributively autonomous control while somewhat minimizing my risk of becoming a corporate resale commodity.Ok. . . Ok. . . maybe I’m just old and paranoid ?

  16. Hue Rhodes

    An electron cloud came to mind. With the strength of your cloud a probabilistic function of distance and device activity. Maybe that’s a good mental image until someone produces the picture you were looking for.

    1. fredwilson

      yes, thanks

  17. kskobac

    Not to mention all of the useful things that the latest pairing of iOS and OSX can do, with handoff etc.!

    1. SubstrateUndertow

      Remix that process with the concept of permissions and it has a lot of headroom for expansion !

    1. fredwilson


  18. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    how about this personal-private-public relations image? …

  19. Kasi Viswanathan Agilandam

    Nothing to do with the post … but this personal cloud picture is interesting 🙂

    1. JamesHRH

      This is what it will feel like for a lot of people.

  20. leigh

    With my last startup i was interested in being able to have the idea of personalization reside with me and not with whomever – preferences, buying history…maybe the only thing that would reside with the buyers would be reputation management. Still interested in that. Whenever anyone solves that and creates a decentralized network of services who don’t have their revenue model being advertising, and therefore will be open to that, let me know!

  21. Perpetuelle

    With all due respect to B. Evans, the term “personal cloud” has been around for awhile now. Younity ( has built their entire business around the term (I am not involved financially or in any other way with the company), though maybe not in the same sense as Evans defines it. But let’s not go saying the term “personal cloud” was coined a couple months ago because that is demonstrably incorrect.

    1. SubstrateUndertow

      I thought my dad coined that term back in the 60’s when he was pissed off with me for walking around like I was living in my own “Personal Cloud”.also inferred by the Rolling Stones”get of of My cloud”

  22. Roger Anderson

    Phil Windley (creator of the Internet Shopping mall iMall and other genius things) has been talking about this and using the phrase Personal Cloud since at least April of 2012 –… he even has an OS for it.

  23. Pete Griffiths

    Agreed. Mesh networking is a BIG deal. The ideas have been around for decades and there are many longstanding projects in this area but it is only now that we have the node density for it to be a really viable and important step forward.(and the potential relationships with blockchain are very intriguing)

  24. JLM

    .Some very deep thinking. I have a theory of life I call the BMW mechanic theory of life. It goes like this.Once upon a time I knew how to fix everything on my car. It was a very cool 1956 Chevy BelAir. I used a dime for everything. Screws? Dime. Gap the plugs? Dime.I could drive it and I could fix it. I was happy.Then life got complicated. I got a BMW and I couldn’t even identify all the freakin’ parts under the hood. I could drive the Hell out of it but I couldn’t fix it. I was still happy.When it needed to be fixed, I would take it to the BMW dealership and they would hook it up to the computer and the computer would tell them what was wrong with it and they would fix it. No humans really knew what was wrong until the computer told them–tyranny of tech writ large. The machines were in control.I was still happy but I just didn’t know what was wrong or how it worked any more. I was still happy.That is how technology is starting to work. It works and we really don’t know how it works any more. The other day I listened to two guys arguing as to how Twitter and the local weather apps worked on my phone. Mine! I didn’t know and they didn’t agree. I didn’t GAS. I was still happy.I don’t care how the shit gets to me anymore. I just want the capabilities and I don’t care whether it’s my personal cloud or some other such stuff. I just want the shit to work and I will be happy.[Pro tip: Never, ever own a BMW out of warranty.]JLM.

    1. LE

      I used a dime for everything.With smaller printing machinery you’d be surprised what a couple of rubber bands can fix in a pinch. With a mechanical device you can see how everything interacts and works. So you can figure out work arounds to get it to operate. Or at least have a clue as to a potential fix.I have a $15,000 scanner at the office (bought for +-8k on ebay). It stopped feeding. All I had to do was use some purell hand sanitizer on the rollers and boom that was it. Just remove the glaze. Almost bought new rollers. I almost didn’t even try to fix it. My brain had gotten lazy since it’s typically not that easy. You tend to overlook the obvious. Make sure even with the BMW that you don’t overlook the obvious. At least with that you get the maintenance w/i the first few years for free.Gap the plugs? Dime.I never fixed cars but I fixed things. As such I understand (probably from taking apart lawn mowers) the concepts behind the gap in the plug. (Create a spark to ignite the fuel.) Also model helis there are glow plugs and clutches and servos. Lot’s of fun. So for example if you play with things enough and learn how they work you know how to work around problems. [2] If all you do is follow instructions (say on the internet) you might think that you can’t repair the Bel Air if you don’t have a spark plug gap gage [1] which is not the case. The point of the gap is just to create a spark. A gage is perhaps the ideal solution but not the only solution. In a pinch at least.Personally I find this type of thing fun.I could drive the Hell out of it but I couldn’t fix it.You know that commercial I’ve posted before for some erectile dysfunction drug (either viagra or cialis don’t recall) “This is the age of knowing how to get things done”. Shows a 50’s guy breaking down in the desert, stopping a service stations and pouring water into the radiator and driving off.[1]…[2] I think what people also fail to realize is knowing one mechanical thing in concept helps you greatly with other unrelated mechanical problems. Most principles are similar so you can apply the knowledge.

      1. JLM

        .Hand sanitizer will become the new American Ebola hero here shortly.Every time I stop moving, I wash my hands. When I get lost in thought I get up and wash my hands.JLM.

        1. LE

          Buy this:”PURELL 2720 Dove Gray TFX Touch Free Hand Sanitizer”…- No need to push anything, it’s got the electric eye thingy. Batteries last a long time. (So far I’m going on 6 months and haven’t used even part of the cartridge.)- Wall mount with the massive sticky tape (no need to pull out the tools)- Cheap – they make money on the refills but as a single person it will last 2 years probably or more- Much better than paper towels or hand towels.I have one in my work bathroom. To ugly for the home bathroom.If someone offered attractive covers for these they’d could make a good living.I’m in the camp that the ebola czar is the wrong pick. To high functioning doesn’t know how the little guy doesn’t follow instructions like the academics think he will. Hasn’t dealt with enough fuck ups to plan around those types.

          1. JLM

            .The whole czar business is a coup d’etat of how the government is supposed to run. Look at who some of these cabinet secretaries are — total lightweights and shlubs able to be manipulated at will. Sec of Def Hagel? Huh?Then peek beneath the covers and find out who the czars are — that’s the real seat of power. Valerie Jarrett and Michelle Obama have more power than Kerry and Hagel combined.The ebola czar, whose existence and necessity was denied for 3 weeks, is a political operative. Nothing more. They are looking to manage the effort like a political operation — reminiscent of the Soviet communist party assigning apparatchiks to infantry units to buck up their resolve to fight (Krushchev in WWII).We have a very expensive NIH and CDC who have had a century to figure out the freakin’ flu and still 30-35K deaths annually from the flu.JLM.

          2. sigmaalgebra

            The White House responds to headlines, and that is enoughfor the base.Apparently Obama has a bitter resentment for any expertise his base doesn’t grok easily and just wants to believethat what his base can grok is enough.If we actually need a real, i.e., competent, responsible president, then we will be in trouble, at least until the next election.My Congressman Dr. Chris Gibson sent his district e-mailtoday on Ebola and recommended testing people fromaffected countries before they board an airplane to theUS and explained that this is nothing new or special andjust what he and his fellow US soldiers went through as they returned from Iraq. Gibson is on the committee relevant to responding to Ebola and explained that CDC and NIH got all the Ebola funding they asked for and more than the administration requested.Yup, the Administration pinching pennies on Ebola funding, really cute, semi-, pseudo-, quasi-brilliant.I do suspect that the CDC, NIH, DHS, DoD, INS, …,Congress, and state and local health departments,etc. can and will do quite a good job against Ebola — they were not elected along with or appointed by Obama.Yup, a few weeks ago I got a flu shot, my first ever, but I haven’t had the flu or a head cold for years. I grew up gettinga really bad head cold about twice a year, reallybad, nose bleeds, etc., but apparently I got so manycolds now I’m immune to nearly all the common coldviruses.Yes, when in public, I try to keep my hands away frommy face, and when I return home one of the first thingsis to wash my hands.

    2. Tom Labus

      Some magic is fun but it helps if you change a bloody tire

      1. JLM

        .Haha, I never let my kids drive until they could change a tire.Then, of course, comes AAA and nobody in the world has to change one ever again. They come do it for you.JLM.

        1. sigmaalgebra

          Change a tire? Some semi-genius at Chevy made lug bolts with a sheet metal jacket that easily gets mangled. So, I got some aftermarket, solid lug bolts and am using them. Then to change a tire, I got a deep socket, super rugged 1/2 inch drive, the right size for the lug bolts and a breaker bar for the socket. That pair is always in the car! Easiest lug bolt removal I ever had!

    3. sigmaalgebra

      [Pro tip: Never, ever own a BMW out of warranty.] Yup, I was guessing that. Until my start-up gets going, I’m driving my old Chevy S-10 Blazer. Some parts are much more rugged than in a passenger car, e.g., the front suspension is original, and from a Corvette talk at a Dayton SAE meeting the fiber glass torsion bars have about 10 times the fatigue life of spring steel and don’t sag.The electronic ignition, plugs, and electronically controlled throttle body injection are original and work great. I believe that the O2 sensor is bad, but the computer has a backup mode, and, although the light “Service Engine Soon” comes on occasionally, the car still runs fine.There are a lot of gadgets not on the car that I didn’t pay for, that don’t break, and I that don’t have to repair!I maintain some of the car, and I have a good mechanic that can maintain the rest.So, when a headlight was dim, I found that the power line was corroded so soldered in some new wire and closed up the joint with some shrink wrap tubing.Yes, when a headlight burns out, I just put in a new “sealed beam” unit; yes, I have the crucial Torx driver!When the driver’s side door latch gets stiff, squirt/spray in quite a lot of WD-40, wash the excess off the window, and continue on.When the power window switch on the driver’s side broke, a local junk yard had a good one for about $5 — been fine for years.When the engine was rough when cold, eventually I discovered the role of the exhaust gas recirculating (EGR) valve, took it apart, knocked out some carbon, and okay for years.When the 4 wheel drive engagement didn’t work, saw that could just put a little C-clamp on the vacuum diaphragm that pulled on the engagement cable to the front center section, and that was enough to get out of driveway in the snow.Tires low? Ran the battery down? No problem: I have an air pump and a battery charger in the garage, ready to use, 24 x 7.When the exhaust pipe of my turbo Buick hot rod sagged, I took a sheet of copper and a hack saw, file, and drill and fabricated an appropriate bracket. Worked fine for years!When I buy a new car, I will look carefully at how much time, effort, and expense will be required for maintenance. Thus I suspect I’ll want a Chevy or Ford and not a BMW. If I want a toy, a Corvette.When I needed to move my files from my old OS/2 computer to my new Windows computer, I couldn’t find an Ethernet card and device driver for the OS/2 computer. So, I got some telephone wire and two plugs intended for serial, asynchronous communications, made the connections for send and receive, used some old asynchronous with Z-modem protocol to move over ZIP files, and got it all to work! The transmission time took a few hours, but I all ran on its own!I got some replacement sponges for my sponge mop, but the replacement pins were too large for the holes in the frame. So, get out a drill plate, pick a drill, and presto, bingo, the replacement fits and I get the floor clean again.Some of the wood on the back porch had warped and pulled out some nails, so get some really long, very hard sheet rock screws and a drill with a Phillips bit, and pull the warped wood back into position. Been solid for years!For outdoor Chinese wok cooking, got a propane turkey cooker — the pair work great! Improvised a Moo Shu Pork recipe that’s okay. But needed to connect the propane tank to the turkey cooker, so got some rubber hose and connectors, used some epoxy and some hose clamps, and it’s all been solid, outdoors for years.The lock on the outside doors were stiff, so got a tube of graphite, squirted in a black cloud, and the locks have been smooth for years.When work table sagged from too much weight of an old CRT, the steel C-beam had pulled loose from the particle board. So, drill some holes, put in some machine screws to pull the table and C-beam back together, and have a strong table for years.Last summer the height adjustment on the lawn mower broke. So recycled some old stainless steel machine bolts, drilled two holes, and got the adjustment solid again.Water damaged the wood in the bottom of the garage door; the door rollers were popping out of their tracks; and the attachment for the cable and lift assist spring was about to break off. So I got some waterproof wood glue, two strips of 1/8th inch thick, 1 inch wide, 1 foot long zinc coated iron with 1/4″ holes, some zinc coated bolts, my drills, etc. and went to work. I used an auto bumper jack to raise and hold the door, did the work, and it’s been solid for years!After my current project, I’ll consider making a car, one that has the best parts can get from Ford, Chevy, etc. and otherwise is as simple as possible and intended for very long life and owner maintenance.I kept working on the NaCl charged water softener but never was happy with the results. So, I just unplugged the thing and pushed the bypass valve. All okay except for the hot water and all the CaCO3 in the water.So, from the Internet got some cute Teflon-based ball valves, some copper tubing, an appropriate propane torch, and some appropriate solder, etc., installed the valves before and after the hot water coil, used some lengths of garden hose and a drill pump, and when the hot water flow rate is low, use the valves to isolate the hot water coil, use the pump to get some circulation going through the coil and into and out of an external mop bucket with a gallon or so of water, dump in about 4 ounces of 20% HCL, wait until the CO2 bubbles stop fromCaCO3 + 2HCL –> CaCl2 + CO2 + H20dump the mop bucket on the back yard, run fresh water into the bucket, restart the circulation, and dump in some baking soda, sodium bicarbonate, NaHCO3 forNaHCO3 + HCL –> NaCl + CO2 + H2OThen use the ball valves to get everything back to normal hot water!Ah, a little high school chemistry, a big sack of sodium bicarbonate from Sam’s Club, and a gallon jug of Muriatic acid (20% HCl) from a lumber yard!This morning my office was cold, and at power on my mid-tower case computer made a nasty noise and the BIOS had a voice warning! Okay, get out the two Phillips screw drivers, unplug the many wires from the back of the mid-tower case, put the case flat side down on my old office desk, remove the side panel, remove the fan from the processor, peel back the paper label on the side of the fan that faces the processor, the label that covers the fan bearing, put 5 drops of oil from an old can of 3 in 1 oil on the ancient mechanical motor technology sleeve bearing, reverse the above, power on, and, presto, bingo, nice, quiet mid-tower case again.Wonder if they teach that in Code Academy!Ah, hacking the house, the car, and the computer!How things work? For me, I still want to know, but, last week I gave up on a point: For some initial data, I’m downloading maybe 50,000 Web pages. Well, for HTTP, writing download software is an easy TCP/IP exercise, but these pages are all from HTTPS which involves encryption. I don’t want to dig into that so get a copy of the Swedish open source command line utility cURL, and it’s working great. Their code for the HTTPS handling is in a library that in principle I could use if it didn’t want just to use their EXE, which for now is fine.When cURL gets a file, I use an editor macro to parse and extract the data I want; the editor has such nice commands that I do nearly all the work in the editor macro, including running cURL! NICE editor!The editor macro using cURL can run all night getting data!Glad it wasn’t a hard disk!

      1. JLM

        .So now I know where MacGyver moved to. Most impressive.Well played!JLM.

    4. JamesHRH

      You still need to know how, in order to innovate,..

  25. Stanislas Polu

    Join the discusison late. But you may find this intersting to read:…Slightly old, but still up to date I believe.

  26. Jim Haughwout

    Feels like this is a conflation of terms.BLE, NFC and even RF are Personal Area Network communications technologies. While they can be used for personal info only, the have been used for years to capture data to enterprise data centers (NFC and RF to ERP), public clouds (FitBit, Nike FuelBand) and private (Withings and WABaum for medical sensors).On the other hand, “Personal Cloud” implies a cloud that is for my personal info only. Examples that come to mind are finance/payments info and — with the risk of HealthKit — personal medical info. As a consumer, I’d want to handle this info differently than iCloud, Google Drive, Box and DropBox info as I would only share it with a doctor or my bank — not with FB, Twitter or more). For Personal Clouds to really be useful (EMR, banking) they are going to have to dip into the world of compliance (e.g, HIPAA).Calling PANs Private clouds adds some needless complexity. Getting PAN efficiency, reliability and security down opens a who domain of connected sensors and things. None of this requires cloud changes. Developers may even want to avoid storing sensitive info on private clouds as this places security in the hands of people who may not apply firmware patches, use strong passwords, two-factor authentication, etc. The one time I can think of storing sensitive info locally is when Internet coverage is spotty. However, this is becoming less and less of an issue as coverage maps extend around the world.

  27. LE

    with an image of a person walking down the street surrounded by their personal cloudThe thought that came to mind when you said that was Charlie Brown’s “pIg pen” which I’ve attached below.

  28. sigmaalgebra

    JoinTheMesh:In the future we may just opt out of those non-competitive markets and opt into a local mesh to get us to the Internet backbone, both in our homes and when we are out and about.JoinTheMesh: In the suburbs, on each roof put a box for the node to connect via Wi-Fi everything in that house and yard and also to the neighborhood mesh and, then, the Internet backbone.

  29. sigmaalgebra

    4) Personal health data recording (HealthKit) in which your phone has a real time and historical chart of your heartbeat, blood chemistry, blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and much more. Why do that? Sure, we are trying to do personal health monitoring. Okay, we can plot the data and look at the plots. We get plots for each of the several time series. Okay, but, now what?So, beyond just plotting that data, what else to do with it? And when we do more, do we treat each of the time series independently or in some more effective and meaningful way jointly? Or maybe the main goal is information, and treating the time series independently destroys much of the information (I omit the corresponding math): But for a simple, intuitive view, it is easy to see cases where looking at the time series jointly can show a problem where looking at the series independently cannot. Or, looking at the series independently says, essentially, that normal health is a multi-dimensional box while looking at the series appropriately jointly can describe normal health much more accurately.So, to get the information, we want, at least, to treat the time series effectively jointly.How to do that?Well, since we are monitoring, we have a case of looking for anomalies, that is, problems that likely we have never seen before, at least not for that one person.So, we need a statistical hypothesis test that, due to the several time series, is multi-dimensional and, due to the complexity of the data, is distribution-free. Where to find such?One approach, the only one I know of, is based on measure theory as in, say,Paul R. Halmos, Measure Theory (Halmos was a student of J. Doob, likely the best stochastic processes guy in the US, at University of Illinois and, then, was an assistant to von Neumann at the Institute for Advanced Study), some group theory from abstract algebra, an idea from ergodic theory, and some more. It may be that Norbert Wiener anticipated a little of such a thing inNelson Dunford and Jacob T. Schwartz, Linear Operators Part I: General Theory. of course, from Courant.An issue is how to do the calculations efficiently and, in this case, how to make the application to health monitoring.

  30. Michael Rattner

    I’m a bit confused why everyone is so excited by health apps. We can collect a lot of data but really we have no clue how to use it or what it means. And even if we do (and that’s a giant IF,) do we want some kind of device telling us what we should be eating or how we should be moving throughout the day? It sounds to me that if that happens, we’d be optimizing for the wrong thing.But even before then, all this data ultimately needs to go into a model and that model can either be some kind of “average” person or it can be a model based upon past behaviors and responses of an individual. Both of these models are very tricky to implement in a noisy (data noise) environment under the best of circumstances and I’m not sure that either will ever be more effective than the general rules we have right now. Walk more. Eat less red meat. Get your heart rate high up there a few times a week. Lift a few weights. Eat vegetables. Don’t smoke.And even with the health advice we have been getting, most people don’t know about the edge cases, the fraction of the population that’s a single digit percentage that doesn’t really respond to endurance exercise the way that others do or a similar percentage that doesn’t respond to weight training. In other words, I gave an insanely intuitive basic model in the last paragraph that’s completely wrong for some people. I fear that like all of “big data” these health apps are going to provide slightly better, if somewhat worthless, granular information at the center of the distribution at the expense of jettisoning the tails out to infinity and making such results iron clad, because the computer said so.

    1. fredwilson

      you need the data before you can figure out what it means

      1. Michael Rattner

        When I was in grad school, in one class, we were looking at, for lack of a better phrase, the degree of chaos (mathematically defined), to see if we could predict the onset of congestive heart failure. Data collection wasn’t a major problem, but finding meaningful separation between different outcomes was a major issue. In other words, you could draw a trend line through the analysis, so you could see that decreasing chaos was an early indicator of CHF, but the results were too blurry to actually say that in any given case.I haven’t looked recently, but at the time, the medical literature was littered with failed mathematical approaches to disease states. Maybe someone will figure out a way to tighten up the results into something usable, but that falls into the category of “hard problems.”Now not to shoot myself in the foot, I really haven’t looked at this particular problem and it seems like advancements are still being made:…But I still think that modeling a biological system mathematically is a very hard problem.

        1. SubstrateUndertow

          50 years ago computing and genetics looked like very hard problem but they now yield very workable solution !

    2. ShanaC

      The reason the data is noisy is because we have bad data in the first place. 🙂 We need large scale health data.

    3. SubstrateUndertow

      I’m 64 and I can think of many useful thing that my doctor cannot deliver on simply because he lack any real big-data tools!

  31. ShanaC

    Wouldn’t this just be an amalgam of data points of one. And I’m not that interesting by myself, particularly when it comes to my health

  32. Preston Pesek

    Thrilled to see evolution of the internet into a more robust and flexible system more resilient to systemic collapse or any form of top-down control. Exciting stuff, and great for the alleviation of a personal fear that the net may inevitably one day go “down” by technological breakage or government control.

  33. Kassey

    I imagine soon each person in the world will own a domain name which serves as a personal cloud, storing everything about you. Wait, there’s a lock on the door too, so you decide who can come in and share with you. Why store your personal stuff on Dropbox, Mega, etc. when you can have complete ownership and control of your own stuff?

  34. Alonso Bustamante

    “I could probably go on and list another five things that fit into the personal cloud, but I will stop there.”Out of curiosity, what would these other 5 things be?

  35. howardlindzon

    living in the future…the boom continues…the media is focused on the bear market that supposedly just started. its beautiful

  36. Michael Yamnitsky

    I’ve heard the term ‘personal cloud’ used over the past few years to generalize all the data stored in consumer online services — like Dropbox, gmail, Netflix, Spotify, Healthkit — and what you could do if you aggregated it all.The local networks perspective is interesting as well.

  37. davidhclark

    I like the Yik Yak example of connecting people in universities and reading yak’s at those universities. It’s a great approach.



  39. MacLane Wilkison

    I’m late but you should look at MIT’s Open Mustard Seed project: https://docs.openmustardsee…We’re making loans on the blockchain and are using OMS for identity/reputation scoring but it can be generalized to lots of “personal cloud” apps.

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  42. Semil Shah

    iOS has this with AirDrop (closed), which uses bluetooth and WiFi to find and connect to nearby devices. If Apple opens this up, can do mesh for iOS users soon.

  43. Dotory

    Thanks this psrt really helpful~!!!1 :)

  44. Chris Phenner

    I am in a new role with Gimbal (who spun out of Qualcomm earlier this year), and I am learning some of the words around these topics for the first time.Two prevailing words describe this:- Geo-Data = GPS, cell towers & WiFi- Proximity = Beacons, NFC & BLE ** BLE transmits what Fred calls ‘personal cloud’ data, particularly useful for bridging the digital and physical worlds, especially inside buildings. BLE is available at the OS level to all iOS users v7 and later, and all Android users v4.4 and later (so, it’s on).I don’t hear the word ‘mesh’ used in reference to BLE/NFC devices, but Proximity devices do ‘talk amongst themselves’ via unlicensed spectrum (BLE), and the ‘sightings’ between (say) Beacons and iOS devices can be very specific about Proximity, and can ping one another at rates of up to every 100ms.Also consider a palette in a warehouse that has 20 items on it. And each item has a small Beacon that talks to a Beacon Hub that is affixed to the palette. So if one of the 20 items is removed from the palette, the Beacon Hub will know that.I am focused on use case for apps and programmatic platforms that ‘hand-off’ from wider-area Geo-Data down to in-venue Proximity, the latter enabled by Beacons.The current, OS-level limitations of Geo-Data (and Geo-Fencing) make the implementation of sophisticated use cases hard, but Gimbal fixes that (forgive my plug, but it’s true).If anyone read this far and wants to see more, find me at chris -at- gimbal -dot- com.Very stoked about the ‘Personal Cloud.’ With ‘Geo-Data. Done with ‘Proximity.’

  45. riemannzeta

    i want a device that can detect emotions

  46. fredwilson

    good point. he coined it with me though!

  47. LE

    Easy out when you say stuff like that is to simply use “popularized it” or “popularized it within our community” that has enough wiggle room to silence most cynics.Many times you run into similar things when you make a statement on the internet. Because some guy will do a search to prove you wrong (not me of course!) So for example instead of saying “fax machines came out in the 80’s” so that someone replies “oh no you’re wrong! There were fax machines in 1955!!!” … instead you say “fax machines became popular in the 80’s..” or “became widely used in the 80’s” etc.

  48. JLM

    Yes as always George Bush is at fault here, no?