Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Where is your computer?

Is the mouse dead? Or perhaps more precisely, has your computer died and its spirit gone to pervade everything that you touch? Click more to see what prompted the question.

Although the Youtube video basically describes the Microsoft Surface product the issues it highlights have been simmering for a long time. Much of what we regard as our "computing" resources resides in no single physical place. As it becomes possible to network those resources together the sum of them eventually becoming our computing base. At some further point the computing resources associated with an individual will become so inseparably part of him that they will arguably comprise part of the personality. Where is your computer?


Blogger Brock said...

My computer is currently wherever I have Firefox installed with the proper Add-Ons and bookmarks. Once Firefox allows central-login (and automatically installs Add-Ons and UI config), it'll be where Firefox is installed.

Of course, most of the computing work is being done on Google's and Yahoo's servers, but that's my interface. That's where the data becomes form.

5/30/2007 05:40:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

One way around the bookmark problem is to store them online, such as for example at

This has the advantage of allowing bookmarks to be shared among a community of users. You can all of you contribute to a bookmark or research pool. One thing it lacks is a file share capacity, where you can store articles for gorup. You can of course, roll your own, such as for example enabling FTP on your own site.

5/30/2007 05:48:00 PM  
Blogger sanchmo said...

Don Norman presented the analogy of the history of the motor in his book "Information Appliances"

The electric motor at first was meant to replace the steam engine. [Just as we] had one steam engine that would power an entire factory with belts running the whole length of the factory to transmit the power from the steam engine, the electric motor also was a single device installed at a central location in the factory with belts running to the remote areas of the factory. As the technology improved, we reached the point where you didn't need to have a single motor with belts. You could just build the motor into each device. What this did was dramatically change the nature of the factory, since you no longer had to place the instruments where the belts could reach. Now you could place the instruments wherever it made sense to put them, and the motor became an invisible part of the instrument. In fact, in manufacturing today you don't even notice the electric motors. They're just a fundamental part of the device.

The video above and even something as simple as the iPhone point us to where computing & information technology once again becomes revolutionary. We're moving away from a central PC that I have to go to every time I need to check email, view an interactive map or download music; more & more we're using little mobile devices that are in my car and on my hip, that are hardwired to perform very specific tasks.

What makes the iPhone so exciting (in concept at least) is that at the same time - because of its powerful multi-touch interface - it is becoming less and less hardwired for specific tasks. Who needs physical keys and knobs when the screen itself can display only those knobs needed for the specific task at hand? Who needs a cool iPod, and an indispensible cell phone, and a productive email device, when you can get all three in one easy to use package?

The next evolutionary leap comes when I can have:
1. A laptop that I can load with whatever apps & data are useful there;
2. An iPhone-like personal mobile device that I can configure to be my cell phone, blackberry, iPod, or anything else I need on my hip at all times.
3. A car device that I can configure for interactive maps, music (integratd w/my mp3 player or satellite radio of choice), OnStar security & automobile diagnostics, and hands-free cell calling (integrated w/ any cll provider I choose), and other things that I personally wnat in my car.
4. And, by the way, all these devices (and any others I need) are running off one hardware-neutral database with my music preferences, my cell/data/internet provider, my favorite locations, etc, all available & synchronized.

A guy can dream, can't he.

5/30/2007 05:51:00 PM  
Blogger Jamie said...

Where is Wretchard's blog??

It would be in Google Reader if I could figure out how to access comments... All the articles are retrieved to one page which is expanded with ajax when you near the bottom... really handy for catching up on posts or browsing the extensive archive (which, let's face it, is a pain in the ass under the blogspot set-up).

Anyone know if comments are accessible from Reader?

5/30/2007 06:02:00 PM  
Blogger ccliam said...

One way to have the same applications, settings, etc. on any PC is to use MojoPac ( You can even use your iPod (and iPhone coming soon).

5/31/2007 07:17:00 AM  

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