Production is moving from goods to texts.
Distributing music – from Edison to iPod
Industrial economies are material: they process and combine natural resources (matter) into standardized, mass produced goods. Knowledge economies deal in symbols: they process and combine textual resources into new, mass produced texts.
Computers process symbols rather than steel and oil. Fifty years ago, processing was carried out by mainframes – vast, expensive machines run by specialists. During the last twentyfive years, we have turned to personal computers for most of our processing.
Living in the clouds
Now, processing is moving out – from small individual computers to vast computer farms on the open web. When we use the web rather than local computers to run our applications, we speak of cloud computing.
Social sites – like Blogger, WordPress, flickr, YouTube and Library Thing – require cloud computing. We use our local computers to interact with the centralised platforms. That’s where we meet our friends.
But ordinary office applications – our “productivity tools” – are also moving to the web. Google offers powerful centralized email, news and calendar facilities. Google Docs offer word processing, presentation tools and spreadsheets combined with data entry forms. Organizations that need heavy duty applications rent computer capacity from Amazon.
Now Nicholas Carr reports that Google is launching a web browser designed for cloud computing. Its name is Chrome – and it represents one more step from the stand-alone PC to the cloud.
Carrs recent book – The big switch – compared the web with electricity. Modern societies take access to electrical power for granted. We will soon treat access to the web – or computing power – the same way. Always there. Nothing special.
Ubiquity equals utility.
But when utilities collapse, all hell breaks loose.
- Google Chrome. Applied Abstractions.
Another way to gain share would be to exploit the enormous collection of user stats that Google has, to produce something that tries to guess the intent of the user and provide suggested links and user-influenced interfaces.
Information systems these days is more and more about guessing the users intent rather than having him or her specify it up front, and Google is well informed (too well informed, some would say) about what we like to do.
Google Chrome. Applied Abstractions.