Recently Dave Winer wrote a blog post titled “It’s not all mobile” in which he questions Silicon Valley insiders who say the future of computing is all about mobile. Dave’s main premise is that the protocols of the Internet, including WiFi, are available on all platforms. Dave writes:
“Think about this. I’m typing this at my desk on a huge screen iMac with a second huge screen right next to it. On the nightstand is an iPad charging up. How do they get to the Internet? The same way — wifi. Not really that much difference. Yet one is supposed to be mobile, and the other isn’t. Is that an important distinction? Not so sure.”
If you approach the future from the perspective of Internet access, Dave is absolutely right, all devices access the Internet using the same network protocols and wireless technologies. From an Internet access point of view, there is little difference between mobile and non-mobile. Dave goes on to make a wonderful analogy using an orchestra and how woodwinds produce similar sounds but are used in different ways.
I agree with Dave that focusing on “mobile” vs. “non-mobile” is the wrong point of view because in the real world there will be no distinction between the two, it’s all computing, or rather, all personal computing.
Here is another point of view: for me, the future is about how devices use the Internet to be more intelligent and therefore provide more personal computing. Mobile is a vital context because we expect to be able to use our personal computers everywhere, but just as important are the “at home” and “at work” contexts. What is more important is the blurring of “what I do” and “how I do it” and “where it is done,” with the how part of the equation becoming easier, more powerful, and more personal.