I am writing this blog using the on-line word processor Writely.com. This new way of using productivity tool might change the world of office automation. Well, that's what is claimed by many experts who believe that using a tool as a "web service" will support the user in working "anywhere, anytime, ...anyhow"!
Is it a real revolution? That's my question. Are we moving back to Mainframes computers with centralized computing and dumb terminals? Is it a web browser a sort of "dumb terminal" (not so dumb, anyway...)?
I remember when IBM's terminal were form oriented (i.e. you had to locally fill a form on a "block" terminal and then submit it to the main computer). Then there was the revolution: the so-called interactive applications! Still dumb terminals, but the communication between the terminal and the mainframe was no more "block-based" but "character-based". This entailed more interactivity since the computer could control the user's input field by field while filling the forms. That was the last frontier in computing before the advent of networked Personal Computers and the Client-Server architecture, more or less mid-80s.
Now the Web. Web stemmed out of the "gopher" protocol used to navigate remote filesystems on the internet. Within about 20 years we see an evolution which is comparable to that of moving from Mainframes to PC, but in reverse order. Networked PCs needed to share information on the internet but they still wanted a certain degree of autonomy. This because internet connections were costly and not reliable. Moreover, the failure of one single remote information repository could be disastrous from the user perspective. Users were used to make their own backups and they typically had a limited (computing) mobility.
Now the scenario is almost reversed. Users move a lot with their small computing devices and they can more and more rely on stable and cheap internet connection. For this reason it does make sense of putting back information in a single remote place where information can be accessed from everywhere, with any device, without the burden of taking care of data integrity.
This dramatically improves mobility and also reduces the cost of (and the weight) of the mobile devices. No need of heavy large hard disks in your mobile PC. You only need a computer that is able to run a browser. That's all.
While Microsoft still continues to propose powerfull, although "ultra-portable", computers (i.e. Origami), Nokia is proposing the real alternative for mobile computing. Something better than a PocketPC, but less powerfull than a TabletPC, while preserving the needed power to run a full web browser: the Nokia 770.
This will really change the world of computing!! That's my opinion. That's the gadget I was waiting for a long time.
If SUN first launched the slogan "the Network is the Computer", Nokia should say that its 770 is its terminal.
Maybe, in a similar fashion, Apple could re-launch its fantastic Newton with a new "allure". What about a New-ton as a smart internet terminal, with all the Apple's design features, like an iPod inside (or even "pluggable"!)?
Now back to Writely. I am about to publish this blog and I will use the Blog feature in the main menu. I did not talk about Writely actually. But I have to admit that I almost feel no difference between a "true" word processor and this Ajax application.
More on that later. Stay tunned!