The Idea Basket: Grand Tour: The Story of a Penguin and a Red Fedora

[ Thanks to Jared
for this link. ]

“We got back to the conference room around 7:00 PM and were
promptly informed that the Red Hat RV was quite late! Apparently,
the lovely traffic problems of the San Francisco Bay Area had
grabbed the folks from Red Hat and swallowed them whole, so we
would have to wait a while. That was the bad news. The good news
was that the time would be filled by a rousing little speech from
none other than Tim O’Reilly himself! Since I had never seen one of
Tim’s presentations in person, this was quite a treat for me. As I
would quickly discover, Tim’s folksy, gentlemanly manner is well
reflected in the buildings his business occupies. The subject of
his speech, one presented by him a few times in the recent past
(but one I’d never seen) was, at first, rather alarming: ‘Why Linux
Doesn’t Matter.’ You can be sure the audience laughed rather
nervously at this strange topic for a geek gathering targeted
mostly at die-hard Linux users. But what he had to say was, in
fact, rather brilliant.

“Basically, the computer world is on the verge of a major
paradigm shift. In the past, both users and developers have thought
of computers in terms of what applications they can run and what
system services are available to use. What is now beginning to
change isn’t that basic concept, but the definition of what an
application or service actually is. Previous ‘killer apps’ that
helped accelerate the adoption of new computer systems were such
apps as the first spreadsheet, or word processor, or even the Web
browser. But now the killer apps are of a completely different
nature. Tim said that he’d heard recently about someone who bought
their first computer so that they could use amazon.com. Here was an
‘application’ that didn’t actually run on the computer locally at
all. The computer was basically just an access point for getting
onto the Internet, where all the really fun stuff was…”

Complete Story

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