Gone are the days when computer engineers and software developers worked together in developing innovative products that inspired the participation of users all over the world. Instead of an open source approach to program and hardware development with the PC at its center, the tech industry now promotes forced adaptability. First came generalized OS configurations meant to service larger consumer bases at the expense of variety. Next, the explosion of apps gave way to anything and everything digital moving online. And now, with the future of traditional home computing in limbo, Big Data has set up one-size, fits-all cloud computing interconnectedness and all of a sudden the personal computer is no longer personal.
Going back even further, when PC productivity was in its infancy, shopping in a brick and mortar electronics store was an occasion no less exciting than visiting Disneyland. Perhaps it was the community interaction that box stores offered, along with the experience of perusing shelves stocked to the hilt with any number of products, and enough to fulfill the appetite of any electronics geek. And for many, there was also the tangible aspect of being a consumer within the context of a physical environment that complemented our growing world of bits and bytes. Arguably, the old-school retail experience that demanded face-to-face interaction is sorely missed.
In its place is a new generation of 24/7 texters who are perpetually linked via cloud technology. Although convenience, speed and ease are the norm, we have removed a significant chunk of human interaction and become the cyberspacial gatekeeper of our E-isolationist future.
So, does this mean we are well on our way to the singularity that eccentric techies prophesize and promote?
Many users overlook the fact that cloud computing has been largely co-opted by big business in its insatiable quest to streamline information management technology, and public digital storage is the carrot. Its industrial realization and implementation are the byproduct of finite manufacturing logistics. There are not enough precious earth metals for everyone to own super computers and the rise of mobile computing is an effort to limit supply without curtailing demand to meet changing economic times.
One could argue that the downsizing of hardware and software for a greener online world is a necessary industrial business model of resourceful sustainability. But when the cloud seduces the masses, and hides the fact that user privacy has been greatly compromised, it becomes a dangerously monolithic medium that is far from benevolent.
Compare this to a time when physical warehouses ruled. Would you have trusted your private information and belongings to a storage facility that made your files and items available to the public without any control over their safety? Fast forward to today, and it’s baffling to think that more users aren’t upset over the vulnerability of their online information.
And consider the following. Does your content really belong to you if it resides on some faraway digital island subject to the snooping whims of hacker pirates?
It can also be argued that cloud service providers are bent on killing the desktop PC. Fortunately, the afterlife of the PC in the face of miniaturization transcends trends and fads because there are stalwart holdouts who still see the best in computing as an intimate operation first and a crowd sharing enterprise second. When the cloud didn’t exist, the personal computer was invented for individuals, not social media where peer pressure and mass approval reign.
There is a diehard core of traditional PC fans who will not join the cloud and have no qualms about spending cash on classic software and the retro tech needed to run it. They are creative, productive sorts for whom the Internet does not exist merely for consuming media or maintaining vacuous communication. It’s important to encourage non-conformist consumerism and to leave room for niche tastes that will return to the tried and true when what’s new is not always better. Which is why blind faith in the cloud is in for some stormy weather.