The Myth of the One True Device

Jon Udell writes:

I know that being tethered to a high-powered general-purpose computer is not the normal human condition, and never will be. Phones really are becoming the ubiquitous common denominator. I foresaw the decline of the PDA, and opted to skip them. It always seemed to me that when many functions collapsed into one handheld device — including communication, music, photography, personal information management, and digital identity — that device would be, first and foremost, a phone. Now that smart phones are becoming more credible, I’m quite keen to use them. And as an infoware developer, I’m always interested in reaching the widest possible audience. Even if I didn’t want to use mobile devices myself (and I do), I’d have to respect the installed base.

Pervasive connectivity and ubiquitous computing don’t depend on the device you tote in your briefcase or clip to your belt. Or anyway, they shouldn’t. The environments we visit, as well as the ones we live and work in, could provide for our communication and computational needs. Service portability would, in many cases, trump device portability.

The ultimate freedom, to me, would be the freedom not to have to tote my TiBook everywhere, because I’d know its generic equivalent would be waiting for me in all of these places. Identify to the device; flow your preferences and data and applications to it; use it for a while; wipe the slate clean. To make this scenario real, we’ll need to completely decouple our software, preferences, and data from hardware. As well we should. That way, when your laptop is lost, stolen, or broken, you need not suffer a stroke.

What we need is a network “commPuter” – which offers both communications and computing via a centralised grid.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.