Posted: 2008-08-15 08:59:41
I was having this discussion on the plane with the guy in the seat next to me the other day. He "provides information to the intelligence community" and he had pretty sophisticated sounding set up to allow his people to work remotely. Of course, I've had the ability to use my machine at work from just about any computer I sit down at for years, but we'll let that slide.
His point was that computers have stagnated. His argument is that we went from tubes, to transistors, to integrated circuits and stopped there. And, perhaps that's true, although what they're doing with integrated circuits now is amazing compared to what we had in the 80's.
But, my point was the innovation is happening in other areas. Look at screen technology with high definition, or the stuff coming down the pipe like flexible LCDs. Or storage capacity...
The main place I think things are exciting is in how much information is zipping around and how you can have your main systems sitting someplace other than on your desktop. Web pages are something we almost take for granted, and forget that that page has to sit on a server someplace and that you need to be able to grab that information quickly through countless wires and switches.
I'm literally transferring gigabytes of data in the background today as I write this. I decided to sync up my music library at the office with the one on my home machine and found dozens of albums not in both places, so I just copy it over the Internet, probably about four gigs. Remember that 20 megabyte hard drive that would hold more information than you would ever need?
But then there's the fact that I can log into my machine at home from my phone, queue up some music and listen to it on my cell phone. Look how tiny that thing is that I hold in my hand, but where the technology that makes it all work is spread out all over the place.
Heck, just think about cell phones for a second. I've got a bluetooth device, which if I hit the button on the side of my ear, it will let me say a name, which is transmitted to my phone, which in turn dials a number to a big switching center someplace out over the airwaves. The amount of computing going on isn't limited to a single device, but the collection of devices that all act as a single unit.
Then there are Massive Multiplayer Online games (MMOs). That's a thing you could never do without the combined power of all the thousands of machines tied into a single game where everyone is sharing their processing, memory, and other local resources to tie into a big server that sends the game around the world in realtime.
I'm just surprised at how he could think that advances are slowing...