- The older usage is in conjunction with the word "tag" or "word." The terms "tag cloud/word cloud" have increased in popularity, I would say, in the last two years. The two illustrations you see below are examples. One is from the very popular service called "Wordle." You go to the website (http://www.wordle.net/), paste in a text selection, and click on GO. The free online app then scrambles up your text, picks out important words other than articles, etc., and spits them back out in an arrangement whereby the size and boldness of the words depends on those most often used. The result is an interesting and attractive arrangement. The other service I used below is called "TagCloud" (http://www.tagcloud.com/), and it does basically the same thing. I used the same text selection, the first paragraph of my upcoming article, for both in the interest 0f comparison.
- The second use of the word is newer. In the world of rapidly changing tech lingo, that means less than a year as far as I have noticed, though true geeks have of course bandied it about for a longer time. When people talk about the Internet and what is available "in the cloud," they are talking about services and applications available on the Internet. Often these are things that heretofore resided on your hard drive or server. Examples are word processing and other office apps, photo editing, drawing and mind-mapping tools, and many other Web 2.0 apps. Google docs and other Google offerings are prime examples, and the Google folks love to promote this term for that reason.
PS I just went to TagCloud to verify the URL. It is down! But do keep it in mind, because the reason is for "major overhaul." I do believe what they say, which is that it will reappear soon even better than before. If you visit the site you still get some good information in the interim.