TRANSFORMING THE WORLD ON THE COMPUTER’S TERMS
If you want the benefits of computing, either sit down at your computer or stare endlessly into your smart phone. Those are your choices.
To this day, computing and smart phones are like a baby in diapers—cared for by people, coddled by people, tolerated by people and, rather astonishingly, people only expect it to continue to get cheaper, faster, easier to lift, and perhaps more entertaining. But they don’t seem to expect much more.
Technology moves fast but it doesn’t move instantaneously. Most teenagers in 2021 have never held a “floppy” in their hands, and yet floppy disks were essential to personal computer users for at least two decades. Back then, you loaded your file into the computer off a floppy or you didn’t work on the computer. A lot of things have gone obsolete to get us to where we are. Today, USB “thumb” drives are seeing the same gradual sunset of obsolescence that floppies underwent a generation ago.
Some consumers resent—or even rebel against—the changes to (or disappearance of!) the ports on their machines, not to mention the things they used to put into them. Even so, most people have transitioned fairly smoothly from one version of their computer to the next.
That’s because computer peripherals can change (or become abstracted into “the cloud”) without disrupting the core computing “platform” at the center of your world—namely, a QWERTY keyboard with a trackpad and a screen. The “WIMP” user-interface (windows, icons, menus, pointing device) and its attendant hardware has been modified over the years, but it’s all still very much with us, recognizable and usable.
That situation is about to change. Although it was unthinkable just ten years ago, today one can read the news, answer emails and texts, post to social platforms, and participate in a video meeting as easily on your phone as on your laptop—and in many cases far easier. Consider what that says about innovation and the way that the combinatorial power of technologies can build on each other. In a sense, it’s the whole story.
If you haven’t started thinking about that yet, you really should.