Podcast Audio | Posted by Phil Leigh on October 25, 2012
When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
– Arthur C. Clarke’s First Law of Prediction
Venerable computer industry pundit, John Dvorak, is probably wrong to “humbug” predictions of the Post-PC Era. Admittedly, John has expert credentials. He began writing columns for PC Magazine and InfoWorld in the 1980s. He’s also been a regular columnist for Barrons and Forbes magazines. Other Dvorak articles have appeared in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Examiner, and International Herald Tribune. He was part of the start-up team at Cnet. He’s also hosted regular radio and TV shows for NPR and Tech TV. Finally, Dvorak has written or co-authored a dozen books.
Yet his denial of the emergent Post-PC Era is likely to soon become an embarrassment. Perhaps his decades of award winning recognition from yesterday’s industry frontrunners, leaves him unable to recognize when what is new is more significant than what is familiar.
Dvorak surprisingly makes the superficial mistake of assuming that mobility, as evidenced by tablets computers and smartphones, is the defining characteristic of the Post-PC Era. They are only one manifestation. The true defining characteristic is the displacement of over-powered endpoints, such as PCs, with thin client devices that access computing resources from applicable networks such as LANs or the Internet, to wit, Cloud Computing.
Network computing shall not only provide the resources to make ubiquity a reality, but will provide the horsepower needed to enable desktop or laptop endpoints to do the work previously requiring a PC. Moreover, Cloud resources will permit users to employ a diversity of heterogeneous endpoints. It won’t matter whether the users operating system is Windows, Mac-OS, iOS, Android, or Amazon Kindle. Each device is synchronized to the applicable Network programs. They simply work without the user needing to bother with a blizzard of device-specific settings or program updates, beyond the initial configuration.
From at least one perspective it is startling that Dvorak fails to recognize the Cloud at the defining characteristic. After all, it is nothing more than an-idea-whose-time-has-come variation of the 1980s mantra from Sun Microsystems, “The network is the computer.”
But, perhaps identifying the arrival of a Post-PC Era requires an ear for the rhythms with a new computing age. Thus, John might learn from Antonin who — upon listening to the rhythms of the New World – apparently earned everlasting respect.