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Posts Tagged ‘computers like toasters’

There was an uproar in Wednesday’s class after a few of us raised our hands to the question, “Who doesn’t have a Gmail account?” All oxygen momentarily went out of the room while the majority gasped a collective, “Why not?”

I am paying $6.95 per month to keep my earthlink.net email name. I’ve had this email name for, well, ever. I don’t expect, now with social media tools on the rise, I’ll ever have to worry about people not being able to find me, but still. I’m sentimental about my email name.

Gmail, however ubiquitous, is in my mind, a temporary account that high school juniors set up with their “real names” when they want to appear all professional for college admissions officers. But, the majority of APOCers think Gmail is a necessity. When did Gmail become the default email client?

There are times when I sit in class perplexed at how much the computer world has changed since I left it ten years ago. What stuns me the most is how inexplicably positive and trusting everyone seems about the Internet. It’s an Al Gore-ish mentality, as if, hey, we built the internet, it’s always been there, duh!

In the pre-Google world, Bill Gates’ dream was a computer on every desktop (running Microsoft software, of course!) and software so seemlessly integrated that it operated “like a toaster.” Apple and Windows went part of the way in making that happen with graphical user interfaces. But, who would have guessed that we’d be building an entry point to computers based on natural language search? Isn’t Google now just reinventing the wheel? But instead of the computer on the desktop, it’s “data set” into the cloud.

As Ashlie Chan and Scott Slesinger presented on collaborative tools such as GoogleDocs, BaseCamp and ZoHo, I drew a parallel. One of these products touted a feature where you could create folders and organize your documents into them. Wait! This is called a “file system” and it’s existed on computers since their inception. Ok. So there’s a whole generation of users who have grown up with their entry point into computers as the Google search page. And as Google and others push open source/cloud computing, they’re rebuilding users’ experiences back up from scratch.  At least, that’s how I see it.

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