Chapter umpteen – in which I feel inclined to quote a robot

Yes. I suggest that you take a look at this little nugget, courtesy of the New York Times.

It is interesting though. Where will our applications end up? Will it be the network computer (for the seventy millionth time) or will it be the fat client?
The thing I wonder is if everyone involved is smoking crack. Are the intarwebs really working better? Search engines being gamed, malware spreading like wildfire, ownership of core networks moving further and further into the vast unthinking depths of telco land. This is not a market for networked applications. In fact I am considering if it’s not looking a lot more like a market in which distributed trusted networks (overlayed on top of a inherently untrustworthy network) will be the thing. I guess you could describe it as VPN:s but VPN:s somehow assume that there is an entity (or group) which strives to be private and that is not really what I am talking about; rather that groups of people, who may or may not even be linked to each other in any other way than that they have established some form of trust , start to look at sharing information. (It’s a thought still forming so you will have to bear with me for a while on that subject)
In any case – the idea that Google will succeed where so many others have failed is simply ludicrous. I certainly think that certain types of applications will move into the network domain, certain parts of applications will be managed centrally (See Excel Server for a very good example). But that enterprises would trust Google with their data? Or that Google could actually make a better Office suite than Microsoft in Javascript? Don’t be ludicrous. It’s not even a pipedream, it’s FUD. But not from Redmond for once in a while.
Sure there are people, some who I even know and respect, who claim that Google Apps will be the way of the future. I think they are full of it.
Look people, we are in the second half of the chessboard, growing our storage capacity exponentially, the concurrency crisis has only begun and we are starting to see how programming languages slowly mutate to handle a future where parallellism becomes more and more important. The idea that a networked application would somehow be necessary when storage and cycles are ultra cheap commodities is just dumb. If you can carry your desktop on your keychain and run it on pretty much anything, all your documents, applications, even your desktop – why would you need a networked application? (And if you think I am full of shit, think again) To share your documents? Don’t be daft, the wiki is the collaborative way and somehow I think that Microsoft latest posturing about the wikiness of Sharepoint shows that they have got the idea at long last (in spirit if not in practice).
Applications will become even more personal as they become personalized. They may become thinner, certain aspects of them moving into server farms elsewhere (enterprise controlled or something like S3, who knows), but they will become – to a certain extent – part of us, of what we are. Simple things have already started to turn up. Personalized menues based on how we work. But this is a niche where there is much to be done and where major things will start happening soon I think. Predictive searches for information, abstract generation, monitoring of inbound async communications providing context sensitive background information inlined. Something like that. And many other things naturally.

Not bad for a sunday night ramble I think.

 Oh yes. The robot quote. Bite my shiny metal ass.


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