I have a bone to pick with you. All of you. There is a serious problem with the way we have been collectively thinking about this whole technology thing. I first noticed it with tablets, and then Chrome OS and layer systems like JoliCloud. I’ve had enough. We are accidentally destroying something so important that, if left unchecked, could have disastrous side effects. I think we might be destroying the very basis of innovation, exploration, and technological creativity.Let’s turn the clocks back 18 or 19 years ago. Internet was not really a household word. Computers were not the need they are today. Everything was difficult and you had to really know your way around the microprocessor to get anything of substance done. I was 7, and for my birthday I was given my first PC. It was a fantastic Windows 3.1 computer, and I spent every waking moment learning everything there was to learn about this thing. At school I would stay after and copy games from the school computer so I could carefully read each line of code at home. I absorbed everything I could, it was a really fantastic experience. I knew everything there was to know about my device.My Uncle, the one who built the computer, took it once to update Windows, and when it came back I noticed that there were CD-Rom drivers that were not there before. I ruined the surprise that was my own Christmas present that year when I got my first CD-Rom drive and more RAM. It was the combination of my desire to absorb information, and the ability to push buttons and explore this strange device that helped me become the gadget-loving geek I am today. I would be surprised if each of Geek.com’s readers did not have some kind of similar tale to tell. We’ve loved technology and been fluent in her language since we were kids.As I grew up, I realized that there was a kind of politics to technology. My college professors referred to it as “Enhancing the state of the market, not the state of the art”, a phrase that has stuck with me for a long time. It was all that time spent enhancing the state of the market that lead Microsoft down the slippery slope we see it in now, and many accuse Apple of doing the same in aspects of their business as well. Even Google recently has come under fire with the underwhelming specs on the Nexus S, after such a paradigm shifting release that we saw with the Nexus One.It’s dangerous to see companies reach a point where they no longer have to innovate to remain on top, they can just keep releasing minor upgrades and be met with fanfare. It’s a terrible thing to witness, but that’s not necessarily what I believe will destroy our sense of innovation. At least, it won’t be the significant first step.The problem, as I see it, lies with the increasing popularity of seeing incomplete operating systems sit in the hands of users who would then use them in replacement of computers with more traditional operating systems. When I see articles like “Can My iPad Replace My Computer” I cringe. When I see phrases like the “Post-PC” age, I am enraged at the possibility. Mobile operating systems are great in tiny handheld computers, and might be good enough for many in tablets as well, but these operating systems are incomplete. Dangerously so, in fact. The same can be said for Chrome OS and Jolicloud. They are all symptoms to a much larger, much more dangerous problem.Devices, like the iPad, the Cr-48 Chrome OS computer, the JoliBook, or an Android device are designed to be both inexpensive and extremely simple to use and maintain in comparison to computers. Sure, they are simple, and eventually they will become cheaper than netbooks. The sub $300 Chrome OS notebook or the refurbished $350 iPad are ideal candidates to be purchased by anyone who has ever needed to get a computer, but was not real “tech savvy”. Sure they might buy it for themselves, at which point they are already just users and fit into the system just fine. The problem comes in when these machines are bought for their children.Give a child an iPad and a keyboard and they can learn, play games, and do anything else they are told they are allowed to do. Hand a child a CR-48 and they can surf the web and do almost anything they could want to do in terms of becoming a web user. That’s what these devices create, users. Users are important, obviously. What happens, however, when that child is raised as a user, and never exposed to the possibility that they could create something. You can’t really develop apps on an iPad, you can’t really make websites on a CR-48. These tiny sponges who should be given a box and told to explore and learn are being given slabs of greatness and being told to use.What’s the big deal, right? The schools will teach those that are interested after all. Though, it’s hard to know whether or not you are interested when you don’t have any understanding of what is going on under the hood. I know absolutely nothing about cars as an adult because I never had anyone take me out to the garage as a kid and show me how cool it is. As we become a society of users, the developing and creating and innovating people of the world will become a dying race. Eventually, with a startling lack of new ideas, the companies that make these products will do the only thing that they can, enhancing the state of the market.In my mind, it’s not a future I want to see. It starts with eliminating the incomplete mobile ecosystem. We have dual-core tablets and lots of RAM now, let’s demand that they get proper browsers with Flash and Silverlight and Java and everything else. Let the iPad version of Safari actually be Safari. Let the Chrome in ChromeOS or the browser in Android fully work like Chrome. And let’s not stop there either, let’s get real file-systems with native Samba support. Let’s get child-friendly developer apps populating the market.Let’s empower ourselves to enhance the state of the art, so we can avoid a world where we are left with no choice but to enhance the state of the market.
- Apple shipping some MacBook Airs with faster Samsung SSDs
- ATT launches HTC Inspire 4G February 13th