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Roger Strukhoff

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Cloud Computing, Charlie Sheen, and Why I Connect Them

When We Look at Charlie, We Are Looking into a Mirror and Seeing Ourselves

I write about Cloud Computing and all that it touches, according to my Twitter page.

Over the week-end, it has touched Charlie Sheen, but not because he streamed an abysmal broadcast over the Web from his home.

Please bear with me for a few paragraphs.

Somehow I've been drawn into watching this personal catastrophe. My new, enervating addiction came upon me as I blundered into his interview with Piers Morgan one evening.

From the moment he started his one-man, two-voiced show, I couldn't look away. He wasn't funny, and like most of us, not as smart as he thinks he is. Piers seemed bent on doing everything required of becoming his third wife. In theory, this should've been terrible TV, but somehow it was captivating.

I followed up by listening to some of his other rants and taking in the full horror of his incompetent home streamcast.

Why? Lots of celebrities have melted down in public. What made this one unique? Why should we care?

Charlie is the US & Us
Then it occurred to me that maybe Charlie Sheen is us, America is Charlie Sheen. Maybe he is the perfect avatar for the United States in its current sad state.

Suddenly looking and old and tired beyond our years, with our multiple addictions, angry denial that there's a problem (or blaming others for it), obnoxious, at war with ourselves--and out of work. No wonder he's getting so much attention; we are looking into the mirror as a nation when we are looking at Charlie Sheen.

The prospect of Charlie losing his multi-million-dollar annual income must be terrifying to a few people around him. The prospect of a protacted slowdown in the $14-trillion economy of the US should be terrifying to the world.

Exceptional, But...
Charlie says his mind and life are superior to all others. This sounds a bit like the routine invocation of America's greatness and exceptionalism. As the comedian Lewis Black has pointed out about this American belief, if someone in the office routinely talked like that about himself, "by the end of the week, you would've killed him."

Travel a bit, and you find that most people understand that the US is the most important country in the world, economically and diplomatically. They don't need to be told further that it's the "greatest" in all respects. Americans should think so, and millions of immigrants every year do think so. But all peoples of the world should take unique pride in their nations (if not their current government). As Charlie would say, Duh.

Charlie may end up killing himself yet. The prospect of seeing this is surely is driving a large percentage of his current audience. He seems to be living out his ultimate demise in front of us all, unaware that so many are watching for the unhealthy, voyeuristic train-wreck aspect of the story.

What of the US? The US may now be into full decline, in front of the world, much of which has claimed to despise it all along. But only terrorists and other insane people can take any joy in the train-wreck aspect of this story.

Charlie can fix his problems if he seeks help from one of many avenues open to him. I hope he does. The solution for him is not easy, but it's simple: Get help. It's widely available.

But the US? I The solution for it is neither easy nor simple. The country is obese and badly educated, with a bi-polar culture that is simultaneously driven by pron and know-nothingism, and a boiling anger driven by the hollowing out of its manufacturing base and consequent unemployment.

Two Points of Light
I hope that President's Obama task force on manufacturing, headed by General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, is something that is productive and taken seriously. Developing new and better jobs will quiet all but those on the fringes who truly hate America. Sure, this sounds naïve, but the alternative is darkness.

Additionally, the Cloud First strategy outlined by Federal CIO Vivek Kundra was as compelling to me as Charlie Sheen this past week, but for better reasons. It was detailed yet clear, and takes a hard line over a short timeframe.

It should represent a major turning point for newly efficient use of IT by that very large customer, the United States government, which has an annual IT budget of $80 billion. It should also be a blueprint for business to move toward Cloud Computing, and quickly.

Would that everyone in the US focus on what Cloud Computing can do, and Immelt's task force should do, and maybe there's hope for Uncle Sam still.

More Stories By Roger Strukhoff

Roger Strukhoff (@IoT2040) is Executive Director of the Tau Institute for Global ICT Research, with offices in Illinois and Manila. He is Conference Chair of @CloudExpo & @ThingsExpo, and Editor of SYS-CON Media's CloudComputing BigData & IoT Journals. He holds a BA from Knox College & conducted MBA studies at CSU-East Bay.