Friday, 24 August 2012

The second golden age of personal computing.

With interest and some excitement (despite it being Nokia Nikon and having some negative experiences with them), I just read that Nokia have announce an Android powered camera. Of course, it's all ostensibly about feacebook and twatter, but one can easily see a world of more practical use to an appliance on which you can install customised software. Let's just hope that a DSLR isn't too far behind - although camera vendors may fear having the shift-ful proprietary software they took years to develop improved upon and obsoleted by someone else.

It is rather ironic that whilst desktop computer operating systems are locking down, dumb-stupifying and generally turning general purpose machines into appliances, appliance makers are opening up, complicating, and turning appliances into general purpose computers.

And at the heart of it, it's all thanks to Free Software. 'Onya RMS.

And it's no doubt also thanks to the purest form of capitalist economics. It is simply cheaper to use a free operating system than it is to write your own or purchase a per-appliance non-free one.

First Golden Age

I consider the first Golden Age of personal computers to the time before Microsoft Windows and their illegally attained `wintel' monopoly.

So these developments are clearly also a result of breaking the back of the wintel monopoly and the USA based global technology plutocracy.

Who would have thought that a bit of competition would benefit we the little people?

Second Golden Age

So I feel we're entering another 'golden age' of computing: where anybody with the skills can improve upon or replace the usually shitty software that comes with any device - as every device is now powered by substantial software components this equates to a lot of computers. With any luck I will never have to purchase a locked-down throw-away appliance ever again ...

However, I fear as with all golden ages, this one will also not last and eventually they will try to pull a M$ on us ...

  • First, vendors will start to lock down `internal' api's that give their own software an edge.
  • Then they will prevent non-authorised applications from being installed.
  • Eventually they will lock down the system so tight it returns to being a closed applicance.
  • All the while they will use lawyers as anti-competitive weapons.

Ultimately however economics will force their hand, and any such tactics will prove too costly to maintain.

But what cost to society will such experiments first extract?

Update: Thanks Sankar, yes Nikon, too much Tomi on my brain that morning. And of course, Samsung have followed up with announcing their Android camera ... yum.

1 comment:

Sankar P said...

s/Nokia/Nikon :-)