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osOpinion: Where is the technology headed? (part II)

Aug 22, 2000, 06:13 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Russell Miller)

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"Information appliances are a natural and necessary evolution in human technology. Personal computers for the past twenty years or so have been one-size-fits-all machines. And they are very good at what they do. But they have some serious limitations. One of these limitations is what I call transparency. Personal computers - even desktop computers with the latest operating systems - are not transparent in their function. When you work with a computer, you are not offered an environment that will allow you to do what you want to do with a minimum of hassle. Instead you are offered a very capable environment, but one with a relatively steep learning curve and a counterintuitive interface - yes, even Microsoft's interface is counterintuitive to a beginning user. It is only seen as easy to use because the general public has had ten or so years to get used to it."

"But as a natural result of evolution, the information has begun to supplant the application - which has begun to make the desktop computer obsolete. Suddenly we don't require a large general purpose box to do everything - we require the information we need, when we need it, in the manner that is the most intuitive. I am particularly impressed with a recent product I saw - a Linux based telephone with a touchscreen on it. The interface is simple, elegant, and intuitive, yet it belies a great deal of possibilities just under the surface."

"All of these information appliances are glued together with a common network - the Internet. Perhaps one of the most transparent constructs yet devised, any piece of information can be accessed by any machine anywhere. And the Internet itself is only in its infancy stages of evolution."

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