Perhaps it’s because, as British diplomats were taught in the nineteenth century, the weather is the only polite way to start a conversation; a subject that affects us all equally and for which no one can be blamed.
Perhaps it’s because clouds are one of the few aspects of the landscape that all human beings experience. The Algonquin may not bump in palm trees regularly, Botswanans may only experience snow on the Discovery Channel, but nowhere on the planet is cloudless.
With the advent of cloud computing, designers have collectively refined the depiction of a cloud into a single recognizable mark, as identifiable a form as a ‘play’ icon or the letter ‘Y’. A cloud, in reality a transient collection of water droplets with no consistent form, is now universally seen as three or four interlocking circles, the outer two symmetrical, the inner two asymmetrical creating a sense of depth.
Despite the formula that has emerged, designers’ showcase sites are brimming with a huge variety of cloud icons.