Cloud Computing Crisis in South Park

“No one in South Park has Internet and there’s no telling when, or even if, it will come back. Desperation sets in as the fear of the unknown spreads rapidly across the country. When Randy hears there still may be some Internet out in California, he packs up his family and heads west in search of a signal.”

South Park: Randy’s family needs to migrate to Silicon Valley in order to seek for Internet usage.

South Park: Randy’s family needs to migrate to Silicon Valley in order to seek for Internet usage.

Silicon Valley seems to be the last resource of Internet in the story. Silicon Valley turns to be a refugee camp and people need to cue for the use of Internet.

Unquestionably, our lives do rely on Internet. When I was watching this South Park episode in Spring 2011, I was realized how serious the problem could in in real world.

What would happen if people could not access cloud computing? Jaeger, Lin, Grimes and Simmons pointed on in their article that services providers and government need to be very careful about the placement of data center. Energy-saving natural features and safety are two key considerations (2009).

As a graduate student in the U.S., I feel impressed by policies of cloud computing in this nation. Considering about energy and safety, “The Google Navy”, the idea to locate data centers on ships in international waters seems to be a thoughtful way out.

Nevertheless, as being an international student, I do have some concern on cloud computing for users outside the U.S. who need to rely on it but they might not have their voices and powers to control it.

What would happen if there was a global crisis about cloud computing as same as it happens in South Park. People in the U.S. might be survived since the U.S. is the location of data centers. How about the rest of the world?

While I could not imagine how terrible it is in those developing countries, the story of South Park makes me think of one country who might not be effected by the crisis, China. While most of world population rely on global cloud computing services like Facebook, Google, Twitter. In 2009, China blocked those international services. This seems to be questionable at the beginning.

Social Medias in China

Social Medias in China

Nevertheless, there must be many reasons behind the ban in in China. Security and privacy issue shall be one of those important reasons. If there is a global crisis about cloud computing, for example, people could not access Facebook, Google or Twitter, China citizens might has effects in minimum. Why? As long as they can access the Internet. Their lives will be the same, they can enjoy their own social medias which are not international cloud computing services providers. China has their own versions of cloud computing services which offer similar services as Google, Youtube, and Facebook. The equivalent of Twitter in China is Sina Weibo (, and the two equivalents of YouTube are Tudou and Youku ( and, respectively). The most similar services of Facebook is … Sounds good?


Jaeger, P. T., Grimes, J. M., & Simmons, S. N (2009, May).  Where is the cloud? Geography, economics, environment, and jurisdiction in cloud computing. First Monday, 14,(5 – 4).


About bankcolumbia

Graduate Student . M.A. Instructional Technology and Media . Teachers College . Columbia University . View all posts by bankcolumbia

3 responses to “Cloud Computing Crisis in South Park

  • marialarahwang

    Hey Bank, thanks for your comment.
    So, Christine Hoyt posted on my blog and shared this article with me:

    It seems like Google is actually planning on building data centers in Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan. It is very interesting to me how Google selected three East Asian countries relatively close to each other. What do you think?

  • Lindsey E Dixon


    I too worry about the potential “loss” of the Cloud one day, or rather, my personal data and information which I have stored in the cloud. I use GoodReader on my iPad to annotate and organize thousands of PDFs for school, but they are all stored in the cloud. That alone makes me anxious, aside from the potential of losing all my personal writing, photos, etc. While it seems like an “off chance” that data will be irrevocably lost, I *have* read articles where Dropbox and other cloud-storage companies have accidentally lost customers’ information and data. It may not be a huge risk statistically, but it is a risk personally that I try to mitigate by keeping things in multiple places, including on desktops and removable storage (which, I realize, defeats the purpose of the cloud to a degree).

  • bankcolumbia

    Hey Maria,

    It is good to hear there are alternative information centers in Asia. SG, HK, and TW are leaders in financial services and ICT, big business opportunity.

    While I am not really sure about international affair policies of HK. I believe HK is a place big corporations can test/launch their pilot products/services in order to see initial feedback from China. Let’s see.


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