SansBlogue  
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
 
The future of Personal Computing ::

I've seen the future! And it might just work...

PCs are NOT "personal" that big screen that sits on a desk is highly impersonal. My laptop comes closer to being a "personal computer", I joke that 2/3 of my office is here, actually that's hardly a joke, more a statement of fact - all but the "long tail" of my office is here in front of me as I write, wirelessly at table as I eat my breakfast. Since I use email, MSN and Skype as the main means of communicating with family and friends, and since our camera uploads to the laptop, and my MP3 player downloads from it much of my personal life is here too...

But even a laptop is hardly "personal" it's still too big to take "everywhere", so my diary and phone, todo list and notes-to-self are on another gismo (PDA/Phone) that sits on my hip. it's small enough to take most places, but does not "do" everything, even with a mini keyboard I hardly ever write significant lengths of text on it...

I've friends who swear by USB drives, carry their documents around in a locket round their necks. But, with a USB drive they depend on the host computer having the software they need. Enter the ugly head of proprietary file formats...

Is there no such thing as a "personal computer"?

<digression> : Family briefing paper and collaboration
[You'll see the point of this soon enough, I promise!]

I mentioned a while back that I am trying to co-ordinate writing a briefing paper on "family". There are two difficulties: getting busy people to agree to participate and writing collaboratively. (The first is pretty much fixed, by dint of lots of phoning and emails.)

Enter Rallypoint an online Bliki*, Wiki-style several people can edit the text, and create new pages of a Rallypoint site, they can also annotate pages using blog-like comments and tagging features. Since users are limited (to five in the free trial beta version) this looks a useful way of preparing such a text.

But, since it is online it is only available when I am within reach of the Internet (at the bach where I get my best coherent uninterrupted time for writing there is deliberately no Internet or phone!), so Rallypoint's not really personal...
</Digression>

But suppose someone put Rallypoint, synchronisation, and a USB (or even better wifi) flash drive together? Portable data (even 1GB drives are cheap as chips now) collaboration built-in, open file-formats, and my workspace goes with me - or can be given to collaborators, and all our changes get synched next time we meet or go online... Any PC or laptop becomes potentially my workspace, and I can share it with you...

And the good news is they're doing it! I read about it in a post "Always-on-you computing" on The End of Cyberspace. Liam Breck "is a mobile & ubiquitous computing architect and entrepreneur" who gets "it" and is trying to make it real (his blog has the nice title Web 2.5 : The Always-On-You Web and the latest post may give a bit of the flavour: "Web 2.5 vs. In-Office Spam" though there are lots I'd have liked to highlight!

I even think that despite the warnings, I might download the trail alpha version of the thing... when I have time and the family briefing sheet and marking are finished ;-)

___________________________________
* Bliki is my personal name for a combination Blog & Wiki... [return]


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