off we go haltingly into the post pc era

We're firmly into what's commonly called the "Post-PC" era. The iPad has sparked the gradual demise of both desktop and notebook computers.

We’re firmly into what’s commonly called the “Post-PC” era.

The iPad has sparked the gradual demise of both desktop and notebook computers. The mouse-click of yore has become the finger-tap of tomorrow, and the screen itself is now our primary means of inputting data into a computer.

Meanwhile, the “cloud”- aka the internet – has evolved into our primary information storage medium.

We have less and less need for local storage facilities like hard drives and DVDs. The more information we deposit into the cloud, the easier it is to access and manage.

There’s no doubt the iPad as a device is truly revolutionary and has turned the technology industry upside down. Meanwhile, the cloud is redefining how and where we store our most valuable information.

Unfortunately, both new computing paradigms are weighed down heavily by the legacy of the PC.

And that’s extremely frustrating.

The core problem that lingers from the days of the PC is the concept of an information structure that’s based on physical metaphors.

Yeah, I’m talking about files and folders.

Moving into the post-PC era, these concepts are finally rendered irrelevant as structured information storage becomes less of a concern.

We’re evolving into a period where context matters more than structure. You want the right information in situations when it’s relevant to your current state of place, time, purpose and social environment.

You don’t want to have to go digging through a dog’s breakfast of folders to find what you need.

In the Post-PC era, your computer should automatically present to you what’s relevant to your current situation.

On the iPad, Apple’s done a great job of hiding the file structure from users.

The only problem is, the company hasn’t replaced it with anything better (or, truth be told, anything at all).

So software developers are working hard to reinstate multiple ad hoc structured file systems on the iPad that further anchor us to the past.

Structured file storage wouldn’t be such a problem if another handicap didn’t feed into it: our information silo mentality.

Date and time? That’s calendar information.

Phone number? That belongs in the address book.

Mission statement? We need to stuff that away in a word processing document somewhere.

Financials? Let’s imprison them in the two-dimensional environment of the spreadsheet.

We now have a long-established common set of software categories that reinforce our practice of segregating information.

In the Post-PC era, those silos need to fall, and information needs to be viewed on a meta level, as individual cells that inform the whole.

We need to rip time and date out of the calendar, contacts out of the address book and numbers out of spreadsheets to form a multi-dimensional view of our reality.

This is where the cloud could pick up: provide a comprehensive storage environment that actively works to link our information together in a structure based on relevance.

Instead, we have online repositories like Dropbox, Flickr, and Google Docs that provide us with nothing more than remote locations on which to dump our incongruous files and folders.

Even iPad app developers – who should be championing new information management models – feed our ignorance. There are scads of calendar apps, task apps, notetaking apps, and bill-tracking apps. But none of these apps share any information with others. As a result, our information gets trapped in ever-smaller silos.

The key to the Post-PC era is the model that software developers choose to leverage.

Currently, and this is again derived of PC practice, it’s a platform model. Flickr is a platform for photos. Dropbox is a platform for file storage. YouTube is where we store videos.

When you build platforms, you reinforce the segregation of information.

Post-PC, we need to adopt a conduit model that connects informational concepts.

How does time relate to financials?

How does place relate to food?

How do contacts relate to tasks?

There should be ready-made conduits that define relationships between these separate informational nodes that can, on the fly, introduce context.

As it stands, we continue to build information platforms that exist as disparate continents held apart by oceans of technical ignorance.

We need to truly embrace the metaphor of the cloud.

Real clouds are amorphous and made up of literally trillions of tiny water droplets. Think of the droplets as cells of information: phone numbers, GPS data, personal goals, photos.

As the climate adjusts, the clouds take on different forms. At times, as the climate changes, they will condense into rain or snow and fall down onto the surface.

The atmosphere fulfills the needs of the environment in a never-ending feedback loop. That’s how it should be with us and our information.

That is, our information should arrive to serve us as we need it. We shouldn’t have to go looking for it. (In a sense, that makes Google the Achilles heel of the Post-PC era. Search should just happen, we shouldn’t have to do it.)

Devices like the iPad and information storage environments like the cloud give us everything we need to completely evolve into a world of technology that finally serves us.

Now, if the people who develop software solutions these days would just fully shed the siloed, structured, and anonymous shackles of the PC, we’d realize that potential much sooner.

Andrew Robulack is a Whitehorse-based freelance writer and communications technology consultant specializing in the internet and mobile devices. Read his blog online at www.geeklife.ca.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Fines for contravening the fire ban start at $1,150 and could go as high as $100,000. File photo
Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. (Black Press file)
Yukon campgrounds to open early

Yukon campgrounds will open on May 1 this year. The early opening… Continue reading

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The aesthetics and economics of highway strips

One of the many cultural experiences you enjoy while driving from Whitehorse… Continue reading

Submitted
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone.
Artwork by Grade 2 student Faith showing her thanks for everyone. (Submitted)
Yukon kids express gratitude for nature, pets and friends in art campaign

More than 50 children submitted artwork featuring things they are grateful for

Team Yukon skip Laura Eby, left, directs her team as Team Northern Ontario skip Krysta Burns looks on at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Calgary on Feb. 22. (Jeff McIntosh/CP)
Team Yukon reports positive experience at Scotties

Team Yukon played their final game at the national championship in Calgary on Thursday afternoon

A sign indicating a drop-off area behind Selkirk Elementary school in Whitehorse on Feb. 25. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Parking lot proposal for Selkirk Elementary criticized

Parents and school council are raising concerns about green space and traffic woes

Tom Ullyett, pictured, is the first Yukoner to receive the Louis St-Laurent Award of Excellence from the Canadian Bar Association for his work as a community builder and mentor in the territory. (Gabrielle Plonka/Yukon News)
Tom Ullyett wins lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Bar Association

Ullyett has worked in the Yukon’s justice ecosystem for 36 years as a public sector lawyer and mentor

The Blood Ties outreach van will now run seven nights a week, thanks to a boost in government funding. Logan Godin, coordinator, and Jesse Whelen, harm reduction counsellor, are seen here on May 12, 2020. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Blood Ties outreach van running seven nights a week with funding boost

The Yukon government is ramping up overdose response, considering safe supply plan

Ranj Pillai speaks to media about business relief programs in Whitehorse on April 1, 2020. The Yukon government announced Feb.25 that it will extend business support programs until September. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Government extends business relief programs to September, launches new loan

“It really gives folks some help with supporting their business with cash flow.”

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Bylaw amendment Whitehorse city council is moving closer with changes to a… Continue reading

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

Most Read