iPadivity 2 – The curse of the beige box ….

Unless you were born pre-1990, computers and people tend not to mix.

Alright, so that’s a bit of a sweeping statement. However, there is an element of truth in it.

Why?  So the computer was invented in 1822 (albeit the “difference engine” and the “analytical engine” some years later) by Charles Babbage but it was, arguably, “brought together” (as Babbage did not build his machine) during the second world war by Alan Turin and Tommy Flowers, to name just a few.

After the war, “Colossus” was taken up by the military to calculate ballistic trajectories. IBM then stated that computers were great but there will only ever need to be 5 computers worldwide. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak thought rather differently to that and invented the PC.  And Bill Gates came along and said he wanted “Windows” powered PC’s on every desk” – and he succeeded.

This brings us to the late 80′s/early 90′s. Middle England, who now constitute the business strength of the country, are 40 – suddenly we have to learn a new way of working.

It’s not just that we had to learn how to switch the machine on, it was protocols, it was setting up e-mail, finding out which button to push, it was creating word docs and spreadsheet/s – not only creating these documents but re-learning a language and re-learning a method of communication. Board meetings were never the same again. Inter departments were never the same again. Typing pools disappeared, and an IT department appeared, CAD and DTP!


And all the fault of these damn bits of plastic that we have to sit in front of that dominate our lives from the moment we get up to the point we go to sleep. And every day there seems to be yet another piece of technology that need to be re-learned and integrated into our lives.

Then all of a sudden this thing called the web started to be talked about.  You had to have something called a “browser” to use it though – and you could only access it through a computer.


The thing about the web is that it was first thought of as an entertainment device, an extension of your TV if you will, and because we had no idea how to “up-load stuff” we could only ever “download” and so the term “surfing the web” was applied. And this is now better known as Web 1.0.

By the time of the new millennium the web had evolved into Web 2.0.   This meant that you and I could create and write “stuff” without the need for expensive coding. We could write blogs, we could self-publish, we had an on-line voice.  In 2004 we could join a site called facebook, a year later we could up load videos to YouTube and just after that we could tell everyone what we were doing on twitter … in real time.

But – we had to do all of this on a damn computer. That nasty piece of plastic that for the last decade has ruled our lives, created havoc, enforced a completely new way of working and forced complete re-structure of our lives.

The trouble with computers is that’s what they do. Compute.

And that’s fine if you work in the IT department or the DTP dept or the CAD dept. It’s also OK if you want to create documents, spreadsheets, presentations, files, storage or edit videos or photos at a professional level – because that’s what they’re good at and that’s what we need them to do.

However, the above means that you have to be sat in front of that computer to do any of the work.

That does not make any sense, after all you can get to your e-mail on your phone!  In fact you can do most of the above on your phone or your iPad. In fact most of the work the average person does in a day can be done on a “device” other than a computer.

We used to call them “programmes”, now we call them “apps”.

What we have now are small windows into the web world that are truly portable, can do most (if not all) of what we what to do on a machine, and organise our lives in an instant. All without the need of the desktop computer and all using specific sites that we now call app’s (applications).  These mobile devices also bring into play geo-tagging and location specific apps, such as FourSquare to add to our life-streams.

The trouble with computers is they never changed design since they were born. Yes they have got smarter, faster, smaller, more powerful etc but essentially they were still a box in the corner of the room that you had to go a sit in front of. This huge storage device that, amongst other things, store programmes that can only be accessed via that computer – programmes that, in reality, we don’t need to have on our “computer” as we can access them via an “app” on our mobile device.

What has changed is our acceptance of the web, not as an entertainment device, but part of our daily lives.

And the good news is – you don’t need a computer to access it.

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