Here is a joke I made a while ago:
In truth, this almost never applies to me. I’m old-school when it comes to computing. I sit at a computer desk, with a computer chair, looking at a large monitor with one hand on a full-sized keyboard and the other on a full-sized mouse. The computer itself is tied into a couple of consoles, a router, a hierarchy of power strips, a printer, some speakers, a headset, and a PC version of the XBox controller. The only thing “mobile” about this computer is that I might be able to move it to the other side of the room in an afternoon.
No, I don’t want to open that can of worms and argue about whether or not the PC is dying. I think we’ve danced that jig a few times already. If you want to respond to MovieBob, then by all means, join that conversation.
What’s interesting to me is what he has to say about mobile devices. Up until PAX, mobile devices seemed exotic and almost decadently superfluous to me. They were luxury items. For the price of the latest iPhone you can get a mid-range desktop PC with a solid graphics card. Its usefulness was lost on a reclusive techno hermit like me.
But last weekend I got a peek at how all of you hip, connected, on-the-go youngsters live, and I realized just how useful mobile devices can be. I was at PAX, schleping my daughter’s eeePC around the show. About every twenty minutes I thought of something I wanted to say, or I realized I wanted to see what someone else had to say. I had a need for connectivity, but I didn’t have the right tool for the job. It wasn’t the size of the eeePC that was the problem, but the shape and intent of the device. It’s a tiny laptop, made to sit on your lap. (Or whatever you’ve got to keep gravity from having its way with the thing.) It took nearly a minute to boot up and then required some kind of support. It took a minute to pack and unpack. It’s not the sort of thing you can bring out while standing in line, or while waiting for a bus, or while waiting for a boring conversation to end.
Bob’s discussion about how mobiles are soaking up the desktop PC market is interesting. I’ve been using a computer in the same way since about 1990, and I’ve come to take it for granted that this is just How You Use A Computer. Hearing his thoughts on them and seeing the young people writing Tweets on their little postage-stamp computers has shown me that I’ve become a bit of an anachronism.
I think there will always be a place for desktops, mostly because you need a proper setup to do creative work. I wouldn’t want to do video editing on a 4-inch screen, and I wouldn’t want to try to write a novel with my thumbs. I’d much rather write code while using ergonomic tools in a proper chair, as opposed to tapping it out while curled up on the couch. I don’t think mobiles can really provide a proper work environment, no matter how powerful they become. (And don’t bother arguing this point if you’re under 25. You have no idea. Wait until you’re in your 30’s, and then try typing for a few hours while you’re hunched over. See how quickly you learn to stop doing it.)
So, I’ve just discovered mobile computing, is what I’m saying. I might be a decade late, but I think I’m starting to get it.
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