WebOS and my conversations

My last post on WebOSes and the corresponding comments on ZDNet and Performancing resulted in interesting conversations.

Performancing users and authors had very interesting opinions. Dave, for instance, said:

…they could bring down the price of computing massively. All you would need on a desktop is effectively a thin client that handles inputs and outputs, and
connects to the internet.

… while georgemanty was worried about security:

Do I really want a third party to have access to everything on my computer’s hard drive???

searchengineblog put it really well with:

The problem is that there is no problem to be solved. In 2006, fat clients (read: PCs) aren’t expensive – bandwidth is.

The security concerns do make a valid point. But I guess, with the way things are moving, third-party storage (read: online storage with desktop synchro) is the thing to watch out for in the near future.

Technology has not only enabled cheaper and communication, but it has also been revamping the field of transportation. As travel becomes cheap, we will find ourselves at different places at different times. And then we will need one central location to store our data. Which is where third-party storage comes in.

One option would be a personal FTP server. Like your hard-disk away from your PC. Again, the only hindrance I see currently is the band-width (in terms of access). Thus it boils down, essentially, to two things:

  1. **A radically new, faster method of accessing the internet.**Condition: It must support huge amounts of bandwidth so as to enable each one of the 6 billion people whoo will soon be online in the near future.
  2. **A safe and secure online storage system.**Condition: The privacy concerns of the users must be put to rest. Each such third-party supplier must be liable for any leakage of information (intentional, or otherwise) occurring from their servers.

On ZDNet, 3D0G said:

There are still far to many people out there using computers who have no
clue how computers work and don’t want to know. They just want to browse the web and read email. There are also many people who know they know nothing about computers and so don’t buy one. Something like this would at least open the internet and email up to them

This would be like saying, we need hand-cranked cars because some old-timers cannot adopt to automatic transmission. Not a very good analogy, I agree, but just because people don’t know how to use the net does not mean we step back to thin-clients.

A similar attempt was made (if my memory serves me correctly) with public Internet Access kiosks (at least in India) But it was a huge failure, simply because:

  1. People did not want to make their ignorance of the Internet public.
  2. The kiosks were not supported by adequate bandwidth. They were too slow.
  3. The thin clients were actually confusing and they allowed only one browser window – no tabs back then.
  4. Around 25% of the screen space was consumed by ads that were run to support the costs of running these kiosks.

I have realized that, the more you attempt to make technology easier for people, the lazier they become. *“Give a man fish to eat, he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he will never go hungry for the rest of his life.” ***

If there are any such laymen, we need to teach them how to surf the waves and not try and make things easier for them. Simplicity does not always mean simplifying the product. It could also mean simplifying the process.

Let’s face it, the internet is a skill and not a toy. You have to learn it and the more inquisitive can even attempt to master it. Any attempt to simplify things further will only allow the lazy to become lazier. Do we really need WebOSes? The argument of thin-clients and simplification of things seems pretty thin to me…

I mean, is it really that difficult?

(It’s a pity that I have to **summarize **my Blogosphere Conversations here.)