Not Your Father's Graffiti

03/16/2015 08:11 am ET | Updated May 16, 2015

South by Southwest (SXSW) is in full swing. Every year, 150,000 musicians, techies, filmmakers, luminaries and generally curious folk descend upson Austin, Texas. "Southby" has exploded over the years, buoyed in part by iconic startup launches such as Twitter.

Over the years, the conference has tapped in to key consumer trends. These days, we love to create and to share -- and we're living in great times to do both. (Perhaps we often overshare and later regret it, but that's a different story altogether.) Because of ubiquitous smartphones, cloud computing and new business models such as Kickstarter, it has never been easier to do both. We're only a reach away from increasingly powerful cameras and video recorders. Who could have predicted the rise of the citizen journalist 15 years ago? And artists can do things that were simply not possible even five years ago.

Enter the IBM Urban Art Cloud. It allows users to easily create virtual 3D objects, monuments and facades. Artists can easily "deface" buildings without the fear of being arrested. "It's kind of a virtual gallery where you can exhibit art in a city," says Stephen Funk, who does social media at IBM for Austria, Germany and Switzerland. "It allows citizens to be creative. People can become graffiti artists without destroying buildings."

The video below shows the Urban Art Cloud in action on a monument in Munich, Germany during the 2014 Streetlife Festival.

How do you get started? It turns our that its quite simple. Users only need a credit card and a browser. That's it. One does not to spend a great deal of time configuring software and learning new how to code.

Of course, behind the scenes, there's much more involved. As is increasingly the case these days, cloud computing makes this happen. More specifically, the Art Cloud runs on SoftLayer -- a dedicated server, managed hosting and cloud computing provider that IBM acquired in 2013.

Sound esoteric? Not really. It turns out that many if not most popular services today run off of similar configurations. In fact, without cloud computing, one could argue that services such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn simply wouldn't exist in their current forms -- and they sure wouldn't be free.

In a phrase, cloud computing can change everything -- and not just for consumers with creative bents. No longer do CIOs need to predict how much capacity they'll need to run their businesses. Organizations can deploy tools in a fraction of the time required a decade ago. Of course, "the cloud" is no elixir. It doesn't fix bad data, broken business processes and cultural issues. Nor does it turn a bad idea into a good one.

In short, new technologies enable exciting new possibilities, whether you're running a large organization or you are just a crazy one with an idea.