Sunday, April 23rd 2006 | Ismael Ghalimi
I’ve had a love affair with computers since I first saw one when I was six or seven years old. I believe it was a VAX, and it was used for doing some number crunching at the university where my father used to work. I liked them because, as my dad used to say, they could compute very fast and would always give the right answer. Little did I know that getting the right answer doesn’t mean much if you don’t ask the right question, but we’ll keep this for later.
Over the years, my interest for computers grew, but it did not follow a straight path. Instead, some periods of time were really exciting, while others were pretty dull. The seventies saw the emergence of the personal computer, and that’s when everything started for most hobbyists, me included. The eighties brought us the Macintosh — which I could not afford back then — and office productivity suites that made faster and faster computers really useful to most, thanks in part to Moore’s law. The nineties brought us the Internet, which made us realize that Metcalfe’s law could be even more fun than Moore’s. In short, every ten years or so, something really cool would happen that made computers more useful, in many more ways, to many more people. But between such occurences, computers would lose their magical appeal and return to a purely utilitarian status. They would become conventional, unexciting tools. Boring…
Well, it seems that about ten years have past since the emergence of the Internet to a mainstream audience, and a new wave is appearing on the horizon. Call it Web 2.0, Office 2.0, or whatever you like, the new way of using computers as an interface to online applications that are (almost) always on and bring a social dimension to the mix through collaborative processes is making information technology cool again. When using online services such as Dabble DB, Gmail or Zoho Sheet, I get the same feeling of wonder that I experienced when writing my first lines of BASIC code on a Commodore VIC-20, marveling at the Macintosh’s wonderful industrial design, or dreaming about the things a web browser connected to the Internet was about to make possible ten years ago.
Today, this whole Office 2.0 thing is limited to a group of hardcore hobbyist who share the vision enough to tolerate the bugs that still exist. It will take at least two to three years for the concept to reach a maturity level that will allow a mainstream audience to upgrade from an Office 1.0 setup. Nevertheless, I believe that the foundation has been laid, and what would have been the subject of jokes just a couple of years ago is quickly becoming a reality today. So if you get the same kick as I do with anything computer-related, give Office 2.0 a try and show it to your friends. It will make you a pioneer, it will help others become early adopters, and it will turn a vision into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Author’s note: I agree with David Berlin, computer upgrades are unnecessary.
Entry filed under: Office 2.0