Bing Blog

On not getting too entangled with the Web

Tangled Up

John Markoff in today's NY Times relates how Apple (AAPL) and Microsoft (MSFT) are getting together to make sure that the next time they both introduce operating systems they are "relevant in an increasingly Web-centered world."

I find this vaguely threatening. Not the part about the two behemoths dancing, I'm way over that. Anybody who worries about consolidation at this point is missing the boat. Every industry - advertising, media, transportation, music, fast food - is agglutinizing, finding operating synergies and economies of scale and blah de blah blah and so forth. Those who do not work on this sized canvas must now swallow their own tongues and die.

No, I'm more concerned about another trend that I'd like to stop right now. I hasten to add that I've been incredibly unsuccessful in the past about this. Back in the late 1980s, I tried to stop the fax machine, which I felt would destroy procrastination as we then knew it. And so it did. Later, I foresaw the danger of ubiquitous accessibility represented by e-mail, cell phones and, of course, the BlackBerry. All in vain. The earth turns. Fish gotta swim. Birds gotta fly. Man gotta be reachable on the beach in Costa Alegre.

But now what they're talking about is taking all our operating systems, all our applications and all our data and putting it up on some motherlode hard drive somewhere. Our tools and work product will then be wirelessly downloaded to us from Mother wherever we are. No more Windows. No more OS X. Just little mini-applications that do what we want to do. No more big hard drives on our desktops and laptops. All storage can be done with Mother. No more iPods, because all existing music will be located somewhere in Mother's capacious bosom and streamed to us from the nipple of the Web.

As Mr. Horse used to say in Ren and Stimpy, "No sir. I don't like it."

I like Word. It's a good program. It's been nice to me. It's got a lot of functions, a lot of fonts and I'm as loyal to it as I am to American automobiles.

I like Photoshop. In fact, I like all those big, fat, monolithic digital photography programs that help me edit my pictures. I also like to save my pix in really big files, so they print well. Mother hates really big files. She wants things neat and transmittable over the ether. Not everything should be itty-bitty and easily downloadable!

I don't want my storage to be elsewhere. I want it here, in my home, and no place else. Last time I looked, part of being a grown-up is not having to ask Mommy every time I want a byte. Empowerment! That's the ticket.

And you know what? I like OS X, whether it's Tiger, or Leopard, or Budgerigar. It's a calm, unified place to go, where everything works as it's supposed to and nothing ever crashes in my face. I don't want a collection of convenient little mini-bots. In fact, if I never see another bot it will be too soon for me.

I am me. I am I. I am not going to go quietly into the vast, seductive digital collective mindspace that awaits. How about you?

7 Comments Add Comment

Don't worry. Your PC hard drive is not going anywhere. Any schemme which turns "computer owners" into "access renters" is doomed to fail. It goes against the broader and computer culture. I believe Oracle had some scheme in the 1990s to sell everybody super cheap terminals with no HD which they could use to access rented applications. It fell horribly flat, they cancelled the project after almost zero sales and their stock suffered.

Is "Mother" a reference to the original Alien movie?

The NetPC concept -- selling stripped-down dumb terminals/devices, and making money on providing offsite content/services -- keeps rearing its ugly head. As the Net becomes more pervasive, who knows, maybe someday it'll stick. But so far, it continues to fall flat every time it's revived (every five years or so).

I think you are missing two important points; maybe one. Hard drives and batteries. I need a heavy battery to power my heavy hard drive. If I get of the hard drive, I get rid of the heavy battery. I will finally be able to carry my laptop through the airport (without hurting).

whats the point? you will still need the terminal to access the information. I like sites like photobucket and things to store not so critical files, but to have my whole desktop and all that jazz somewhere else is not my idea of independence. Hosted Services is good, hosted everything is bad.

NetPCs have a place but not in the home. It's best application is business and public access such as libraries and schools. Any place where powerful servers and high speed networks are in place such as a branch office. (I don't mean broadband access. it's slow speed contrary to popular belief). It's best for places where people would destroy the computer's software and recovery needs to be as simple as rebooting.

In such places, it would allow up to date and virus free applications to run as all apps run from the server and the server can be protected from malware. A simple reboot would always solve the problems. (McAfee? Symantec? You reading this? I hope so)

But, the home should never be considered for this as I don't want to rent Word or Excel every time I want to create or edit docs or spreadsheets. I have no reason to build a high speed network and a powerful file/print/application server in my home and I have no reason to setup this up unless I happen to be an IT specialist training myself. I would be such a specialist but most people are not.

As long as most ideas, the NetPC is a part of a puzzle. Keep working at it Microsoft and Apple. Get Citrix involved and the Unix world on your side and then, maybe, the world will be ready for NetPCs in the right places.

Back in 1994 when I started college, the "dumb" terminal with all apps/data residing on the server was what we had. It worked wonderfully for that purpose. Log onto any PC in the University and it was like your own with all your data there.

This model works great for the majority of businesses, Librarys etc...

Though for home PC's, that personally wouldn't work for me. I'm a little too connected with my own data.

Get used to it.

Big Brother, (Mother) will soon have you tied up more than your S and M partner. Wait until "they" have you downloading your money via a credit system. Your employer, (if they pay you) will upload said credits too.

Just a matter of time. It will be hailed as a "new era" (ever hear that?) and be the cure for identity theft and all other common socialistic diseases.

You might be retired by then, but you'll still have to convert.

Scan your eye or hand for the ID. Just hope someone doesn't steal those. (gg)

Good luck!