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Category: Thoughts

“Computer” as vehicle.

I just read “$25 mini computer to be released in UK” and I just wrote a post on the demise of the tower computer. The question becomes – what is a computer in the post-desktop computer era?
I think the same thing happened around the end of the Ford Model T being new and innovative. Was a two seater, super-expensive sports/vanity car the same as a truck? In some ways yes, in some ways no, but the definition of what a vehicle was would change from being one thing to what it would do for us. A truck is a truck since it trucks cargo about. A sports car is a car you can drive in a more ‘sporty’ way than a family saloon.

Same thing is happning to computing. the term ‘computer’ will come to mean less and less. We’ll have laptops (not laptop computers) and desktop workstations (not desktop workstation computers) as well as smart phones (as powerful as any desktop workstation computer of the 1990s), eBooks and many more devices which can all be technically called computers since they have input/output, storage and processing but they are less and computers to their users.

They are vehicles used to get to and navigate through information.

And they will come in astounding forms.

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who this book is for

This book is for you, who want to work to make digital environments more useful in helping us work and solve problems together, either as a user or designer.

I only have pieces of advice for the liquid information systems designer:

1) Take ownership of the problem, not the solution. Focus on the actual use. What does the user need to accomplish, not just in detail but also in terms of the bigger picture? Try not to hold on to pet solutions.

2) Assume you are wrong. Always. Learn what you can, question it, talk to people in different fields, never forgetting actual users. Question your assumptions and their assumptions.

The goal is to help knowledge workers understand the world and communicate what they learn clearly. That’s really the heart of it.

The liquid approach will hopefully be useful to those who design Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and other knowledge augmentation systems for large companies where the whole systems are integrated and controlled. However, half of workers are employed by small companies (as defined by companies employing under 500 people in the United States (web.sba.gov/faqs) and these people cannot be expected to have the support of a knowledge work focused IT department. Innovation happens at the edge. Be the edge.

“The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”
Marcel Proust

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