Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Phones aren't becoming computers - computers are becoming phones

I had an incredible, mind-expanding thought when I observed someone playing solitaire. It's probably not an original thought - I'm sure a lot of self-styled "social media experts," as well as some people who truly DO understand social media, have had similar thoughts.

Until that moment, I had naively assumed that computing power was being shrunken and made mobile. In other words, your phone (or other mobile device) was becoming a computer.

But then something occurred to me. The statement below would have been true when I first encountered a personal computer - in this case, a dedicated computer for BASIC programming - in the early 1970s.

If there were only one computer in the entire world, you could still do a lot of things with it.

If there were only one telephone in the entire world, it would be useless.

Remember - both Bell and Watson had to have telephones for their experiment to work.

But is my "useful computer" statement still true today? If there were only one computer in the world of 2010, solitaire would be just about the only thing that I could do with it.

Yes, I could listen to music - but I wouldn't be able to scrobble it. That wasn't important to me in the 1970s, but it's important to me today.

Yes, I could write, but I couldn't write a blog post and have people read it. I could write something, print it on a piece of paper, and post it in the laundromat, but it wouldn't be the same.

And forget about Facebook, Starfleet Commander, FriendFeed, electronic mail, or many of the other things that I do online. All of those activities depend upon the existence of multiple computers.

So perhaps it's more appropriate to say that our computers are becoming "phones."
blog comments powered by Disqus