The Future Is In The Past

Today I was forwarded an article about a new computer input device utilizing gestures and the article was teasing with a headline like “gestures replace keyboard and mouse.”  Uh huh.

Go ahead and pile this technology on an ever increasing pile: Stylus, touch, multi-touch, swype, and Kinect.  All of which are supposed to be revolutionary and every one has not replaced the keyboard.  Or maybe that’s not true.

Long ago, computers were for highly-skilled people – researchers, academics, scientists.  Then they went mainstream.  Personal computers took over every household.  Then, people started demanding less “computer-looking” devices, so the style element of PC’s was addressed.  More recently, it seems the public has been clamoring for simpler interfaces, reducing the need for input devices.  Enter gesture and touch input.

Depending on which camp you are in, this advancement – or decline – of computers is only a subset of the reality.  Throughout all of it, the standard computer, with boxy tower case, keyboard, mouse and monitor (or monitors) is the mainstay of the creative computer users.  The alternative input devices are too imprecise and too inefficient to actually create anything of quality, whether it be art, code, or engineering.  The sacrifices made for aesthetic purposes limit the raw power needed to actually do work.  So because of this, the computing landscape has split into creators and consumers.

The media keeps hyping that tablets are the future.  This is actually probably true.  The majority of people are not going to need or want the power of a full computer setup.  Combined with the news that there are fewer students with computer programming skills than in previous years, this forms a scary trend.  In a few generations, it’s entirely possible that the use of an actual computer becomes exclusive, just as it was in the early days of computing.  If you have a full computer, you could be viewed as old-fashioned, or maybe you’d be viewed as a genius.

The media also keeps saying that the PC is dead.  This in absolutely not true.  If this were true, there would be no way to create future software and hardware.  However, if they were to say, the consumer personal computer is dead, they may be on to something.

To me it’s very sad to think that we almost had something.  It’s as if we were right on our way to having a super-intelligent global society and a huge shockwave hit and lowered the bar for everyone.

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