To create the future, one needs to envision it first. Some time ago, Atanu Dey and I just did that. We wrote out a small story of what life could be.
Her name is Meena. She lives with her parents and her younger brother, Anil, in a modest two bedroom apartment in a middle-class neighborhood in a small city in India. She goes to a junior college where she is studying pre-med.
It is early in the evening. Entering the living room, she switches on a light and then pushes a button on a little blue box the size of a shoe-box sitting next to a monitor. The monitor lights up immediately displays what looks like a PC desktop. A little dialog box blinks “Who is it?” She types her login name “meena101”. “What is our secret word, Meena?” She responds.
In a flash the desktop changes to resume where she had left off earlier that day when she had accessed “MyComputer” at the school computing center. An ad appears in a little window. It lasts for about 10 seconds informing her of a sale on school supplies going on in her neighborhood supermarket. She clicks on the “ToDo List” and makes a note in there to buy some stationery and dismisses the ad window.
She checks her inbox and quickly responds to an email. She is in a hurry to get to her assignment from the biology class done which is due by 10 pm tonight. She has already done most of it earlier that day at school. On the desktop, that file sits exactly as she had left it. She googles for some more information on ‘platypus’ and after a bit finishes her assignment. She is satisfied with it and she mails it off to the teacher.
Now comes the part she really enjoys. She is learning French. She clicks an icon and a streaming video resumes from where she had left off a few days ago. It is a multimedia course and it is world-class and on top of it all, it is free. She takes a little test in the end and is satisfied with the results.
Meena is in the middle of editing her cyber-club newsletter when her mother calls her to come help. Without a second thought, she clicks on an icon “Bye now” and then pushes the button on the little blue box. Meena’s session on the NetPC is done for now but she can restart exactly where she left off from school or from the neighborhood computing center. Anil wanders in from play and switches on the NetPC and logs in and plays games and does some chatting with friends. Since he is very young, his parents have set his profile to Minor which means that his surfing of the web is severely restricted to age appropriate content.
Later their father logs in and balances his checkbook, pays a few bills, and makes a call to his brother in the US. Then he changes profiles and the desktop switches seamlessly to be what he uses at his small business. Without having to carry a briefcase, he is able to check on his work from home or anywhere around the country.
Tomorrow: NetPC and NetGrid
TECH TALK Tomorrow’s World+T