In the last posting I have dived a little bit in the history of IT and on-line media. Where it came from, and what it went through to get to the place where it is now. Of course, this is only for popular IT usage; games, on-line, programming, and not so much in the total view of the field of computers, because then I would have to go back all the way to the invention of the abacus. And to be honest, I am not into that so much, not without a good cup of coffee this morning 😉
So, let’s go into where IT is right now before, in the next part, we will look into where in my opinion IT might move on to.
Although it might seem, especially after the lengthy posting about the past, that this whole IT thing grew up, well, that might not be a correct point of view. It is more comparable to how a 20-year old might think he/she is already an experienced, full-grown professional while, when you are further up ahead, say when you are 30, you will think actually the same way. But looking back, it is actually clear to see that the developments have not been that amazing anymore the last 10 years exactly. Everything that we have now, is more or less based on concepts and products that were then too. Maybe it is now better, but it is not really new. Computers and systems that interact with you because of motion or sound has been cheaply available for at least 16 years already. So although Nintendo in the market may seem ‘new’ with the Wii, it has been around much longer, but just never has been marketed in a product as such.
Of course, on a technical level there might have been some impressive technologies invented. But still, it is not revolutionary as such for the masses to see. Even the change from a conventional 8086 processor to a Pentium was quite impressive, but in the end, it was still a processor, handling still the same things as the 8086 processor did. Faster, sure, but still the same thing. You can make a cheesecake that in explicitly wonderful and delicious with 100 secret ingredients… it is still a cheesecake.
But that is not bad, because it makes things better. I work with a client a lot who does not want to take the time to let things roll for a while. He always want to add new things. So, once one thing is finished, he wants another thing, and another, and another. Never taking a step back, see how it works, if people want it, if they are happy with it. No, immediately there have to be new things. This is also his downfall most probably. Because the foundation for something you build needs to be strong and solid before you can continue building. Home constructors also have to wait for the concrete to settle before building the walls of the house. And in my point of view, that is where we are right now.
A good example is for example Windows 7. Who has been following the IT news, knows that Windows 7 has been received much better then its predecessor Windows Vista. Still, if you have been a Vista user, you might not see that many differences between the two OS’s as someone who comes from WindowsXP. Was Vista as bad as has been described in the media, and even that Microsoft said it was not that good? I do not think so. I have been a happy user of Vista for 2 years and was more impressed by it based on stability and possibilities than with XP. I am now a happy Windows 7 user, and think it is better than Vista, but in my opinion it is a natural improvement.In a couple of years it is inadequate again.
I work in my field a lot with multimedia programs. Flash is the one I publish in the most. As I described in my last post, Flash runs on the language of Action Script, based on the ECMA standard that also defines Java Script etc. But the evolution of Action Script has been drastic, because to fit into the world of application development, the language was ‘too light’ or ‘too simple’ to do a lot of things. For example, I can mention that something is a tree to you (say; that is Action Script 1), I can tell you it is an Oak tree that has leaves and bends in the wind (Action Script 2), or it is an Oak tree, has leaves that have nerves, are green, you have exactly 293,229 leaves that transform sunlight into oxygen, the tree is 12′ tall and stands in Oakland Heights, WA (Action Script 3). If you want to do more complex things, you need to make the way of building it able to handle the more complex things.
But even though that this evolving is happening outside the view of the masses. Because a lot of the technologies are being used better and better. Social networking is at it’s peak, and will and is already moving more and more in specialized social networking tools like LinkedIn (Look me up when you get there). YouTube is another over-hyped but absolutely useful concept that actually may very well been the first step for a lot of users and corporations to use cloud-computing and get to know the idea of it. True, YouTube costs tons of money to run and advertisement revenues have gone down. But Google is behind it, making again far more money with Adwords than that the search engine costs them (which is an enormous amount), they can ride this out until the cost for the bandwidth is reasonable. Also, don’t forget that a lot of people arrive at YouTube through, well, Google with it’s adWords. One hand washes the other. So while a lot of people claim that YouTube is a problem-child for Google financially, they might be true, but it is probably not for Google itself.
That brings me to the subject of search. I am honestly amazed that there has been no new search concept in the last, well, 13 years. True, I know that everything is stored with data, and that a search is merely a kind of LIKE search in a database. By concept, that is it, no matter that the real technology is far more complicated than that, it is the basic description. Even though people like Google, and support it, the search of them is mediocre at best. Also the indexing is so old fashioned that it is not able to handle content for for example Silverlight and Flash sites. You can build around that, but Google cannot index your site if it is a dynamic multimedia site which is weird, since Flash has been around for about 13 years and a bit more. It is also used massively, still, Google, Yahoo!, Bing!, they can only index the old fashioned HTML.Speaking of evolving… get on with it already 😉
What has been and is around a lot, something I do not have a clear point of view on, is P2P, the file sharing. It is not the file sharing itself that I have a problem with, but I do with the attitude of a lot of people who defend their right to basically get something that doesn’t belong to them. It is clear what is taking place here. There is an opportunity here. If you leave your front door open, and a burglar gets your stuff, it is very hard to prove that a crime has been committed, since their is not trace of a crime. If you can download things easily for free, you cannot blame people for getting it. What my problem is with it is that people are now demanding that things should be free, that simply cannot or should not. Not because they just ‘want it’. I have been in discussions with mostly younger people about the reason why they demand it, and more often than not the answer is ‘Because otherwise I cannot afford it, and I cannot be the only one not playing this game or listening that music.’. Well, my answer, TOO BAD! Wanting something is not the same as needing something. Grow up.
On the other hand, there is a massive opportunity here in any creative field that is targeted by file sharing. You can absolutely dislike DRM, but it was worth a try. I hated it too, especially when I decided to switch my iPod for another brand and lost a lot of my legally bought music then. What that meant was that I had less freedom with my honestly bought music than someone with stolen music.But this is one of those areas that a problem will result in something good and that will be made money off.
But, without the illegal music companies like Apple would not have been that big. Don’t forget it was the iPod, not the iMac, that put the company back on the map and made the brand hip again. Apple almost solely deserves all the credit for making technology beautiful. True, I am not an Apple fan, but I cannot deny, if it wasn’t for their computers still would have been beige and square.
Where are we going to? Well, we see the smart phones getting smarter, computers getting smaller and more and more content, games getting more intelligent and connections getting faster and faster. Whatever it will bring us, we will let the Ghost of IT Future tell us another time.