I was reading this article earlier today and it sparked a few thoughts about netbooks. I’ve been in the tech industry for over 25 years now and I’ve witnessed so many innovations. Today, we have a very interesting combination of powerful, yet flexible ‘servers’ or services (feel free to substitute your favorite term here), powerful yet highly mobile devices, relatively stable (at least in the more populated areas) and affordable wireless networks and access to ubiquitous ‘client-side’ technologies (Yes, I’m referring to Reader, Flash and AIR!) that enable the creation of sophisticated, yet easy to use applications.
So, netbooks. I bought one of these ‘toys’ for each of my kids this Christmas, thinking that they would now play Webkinz there and leave me to my favorite MacBook Pro to do (ahem) “real work”. Well, wouldn’t you know it, within a couple days, the dang things hooked ME! Why you ask? Is it the ‘coolness’ factor or something more? Ok, admittedly, netbooks are cool. If you don’t believe me, take one into Starbuck’s and see how many people talk to you about it. However, the real impact was on my way of thinking about how I use my computer. I realized that with this little device, the hotspot at Starbuck’s and a few well chosen online applications, I could be just as productive as I am with my Mac for day to day use. As well, I’ve been watching my kids use them. They carry them everywhere. They connect everywhere. They communicate, socialize, research, do homework, play games, you name it, all on these little devices that have practically no software loaded on them.
Since the future belongs to these kids, I am encouraged to see governments around the world taking steps to embrace technology as one means to create a nicer place to live. Whether we are talking about better ways to share government financial information without compromising privacy, creating a workplace that gives consideration to ‘green’ issues or simply making it easier for a citizen to request service from the government, it will be through such devices that the younger generations (and maybe a few of us older folks) will demand to interact with government. So, those of you creating and deploying online government services, keep up the good work and don’t forget to take advantage of the free software Adobe has deployed for you!