Slower to adapt to technology?
As many of us do, I was visting Slashdot and came across a particularly interesting article...although not new in terms of content where they were looking back on the Origins of UNIX and Ritchie's contributions from Bell Labs.
Needless to say, anything on the legend Dennis Ritchie I always find a intereting read. And while reading the article, a thought dawned on me that in all honesty, keeps coming to mind and has for the past couple of years. I myself think the computing community is slow to adapt to technology. Most likely, we have a percentage of people chuckling thinking "You just noticed that?" and then we have another percentage of people who ask "Are you nuts?"
Perhaps...perhaps not. If you look at the whole microprocessor revolution, when we started out on this trek some 20 years ago or more, I think the general computing populous was willing to try different architectures more. For example, my first computer was I think a 286...it was a Tandy 1000 with 128k of RAM. My friends at the time all had Commodore 64s. I did have a few odd acquaintances who had the Apple IIe. But I guess what strikes me as interesting about this period is everybody was using different things. Sure you had your majority. But today is it the same? Not really. Hardware is for the most part all on the PC Platform and GNU/Linux has been around for about ten years now. And a great deal has been accomplished in this period, but interestingly enough, the OS is not in the mainstream (which I don't necessarily think is a bad thing...but interesting all the same).
Now if we step back into the early eighties, I think in a odd sort of way, that the general computing population would have embraced GNU/Linux much faster than the computing world we live in today. Yet, we consider our society as a whole today to be more "tech savoy" than ever in history. Why exactly is that? Perhaps society isn't really more savoy, and in fact, technology with the exception of a few areas (GNU/Linux being one of them) has been dumbed down to the lowest common denominator of userland. And as a result, the world is slow to pick up on things like GNU/Linux. Yet, our expectation is higher than it has ever been. Does anybody else out there wish something different would come out? Even if it never went anywhere? Not speaking so much of a OS...although that never hurts. But a whole new platform.
The problem is I think for the first time in history, if you look at mainstream computing, and the money that has tagged along with the technology "ride" associated with it, you will find a significant amount of motivation to keep innovation limited, or at least very simlistic. Lets look at the company many love to hate...MS. If you look from Windows 95 to Windows XP...we are talking almost 10 years of software from MS. Now in that 10 years, in my opinion, not much has changed with Windows. The start button looks a little different, it has become somewhat more multiuser based, but all in in all, in 10 years of development considering it's resources, the opportunity and ability to whip up something totally unique was certainly there. Why didn't that happen? I mean after all, if you look at the DOS to Windows 3.1 era, it wasn't a 10 year period I don't think was it? And the jump from DOS to Windows 3.1 was significant...yet the jump from Windows 95 to Windows XP is not. And I myself think that was intentional. Yet, I think that same intention is causing the general public to slowly lose interest in computing. I don't know that I care what the majority of the population does, but I think this is a great example of why a Monopoly is bad for humanity. If Microsoft had not doped up the General Population with Windows, where would we have gone?