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Do you think we are only at the early stages of a revolution in
communications that will change our life much more than the computers and the
Net have done so far? What changes do you foresee?
-- Claudio Gatti, December 22, 1996
The computer has been around for fifty years but it hasn't fundamentally changed the lives of most photographers or, for that matter, most people. If your job in 1950 was writing payroll checks, then the computer probably changed your daily life, but most people get through most parts of their day without relying on a computer. Why won't that be true in 50 years?
Because of the network.
James Watt's 1765 steam engine didn't change your life unless you were pumping water out of coal mines. When that steam engine got mounted on rails and railroads were spread across nations, society was transformed. With the railroad came the ability to serve a national market with one factory. Factories grew enormous and pulled people out of the countryside to work inside.
The computer is the steam engine. The network is the railroad.
Computers by themselves are a liability. It is so expensive to get information into and out of them that it is probably less trouble to use paper and file cabinets. If however, all of the information you get already comes in a machine-readable form, the computer becomes an asset. The network can deliver information in machine-readable form instantly. Standards like Electronic Document Interchange (EDI) can make that information immediately applicable to one's internal databases without human intervention.
If, due to databases being available on the Internet and video-rate bandwidth to most houses, your computer can handle a lot of routine transactions on your behalf and support your collaboration with other people, then perhaps people will truly be able to telecommute or even live in the country.
-- Philip Greenspun, December 22, 1996
The net Revolution is over. At least in the sense of computers and dial up and even broad band. Wireless appliances controlled by devices smaller than a Nokia cell phone. Do you remember slide rules? I could play Doom on my TI-89 graphing calculator 3 years ago. Next I'll be playing Everquest over my cell phone (wouldnt ATT love that).
-- Ian MacAllen, July 24, 2001