Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Terminally Curious

I've been thinking lately about the way I interface with technology. In stark contrast to the way I lived in undergrad, and in my gap year, I'm finding myself able and eager to adopt new tech, fooling around with it to see how it can integrate with my life. I use a smartphone; virtually all of my group work is facilitated by Google Documents, Dropbox, Evernote, & Prezi; and the vast majority of my computing time is spent in my web browser (Firefox, currently).

I see a shift coming. As smartphones, iPads & other tablets, and even netbooks become ubiquitous, I believe that people will stop generating content on those devices. Writing a blog post--even a lengthy email--on a smartphone is cumbersome, as even the largest screens don't allow for terribly comfortable typing (I've tried). Touchscreens don't give the tactile feedback I like (yet. Haptics are coming along in a hurry). The usefulness of mobile devices assures them a place in the future, however--the pace of life is rapidly shifting to require instant communications via SMS, email, even Twitter, and the convenience can't be beaten.

So we enter a binary: The mobile devices we have will shift primarily to output tools--access the information you've left in the cloud, watch a movie, play a game, read a book or an email. That market is full of new options, and continually expanding. Left wanting, however, is a contemporary input terminal--Standard desktop workstations simply aren't getting the attention they deserve, as many companies focus on more portable options. The iSchool has dual-monitor set-ups in their computer labs, and I find them incredibly useful: the style of work I'm doing these days often requires that much space. Because I'm generally immersed in a web environment, I want to have my browser maximized--and a second screen allows for a text document, a conversation space (Google Chat, Facebook, or Twitter), or a workspace. I'm considering building a similar workspace for my home.

This bifurcation of content--creation on one side, delivery on the other--is starting to be reflected in the technology available to us, at least from where I'm standing, but the lack of decent input devices could mean a shift to a more-consumerist internet. I'll be curious to see what happens in the near future, if these observations are a significant trend.

What do you think? Have you seen similar divisions of input/output terminals? Let's hear it in the comments.

1 comment:

  1. I had not considered fully that some devices are better for input, while others are more suitable for output. Yet I've experienced the frustration trying to use a device that isn't quite up to its ability to allow me to input as quickly and effortlessly as I would like.

    As the number of smartphones increases in the U.S. (Pew data), more people are carrying devices that they believe are good for input and output. These people may not have better input devices at home and may have limited access at work? So where can they go to access the technology that they need? In the U.S., that place tends to be the public library. In Asia, that place might be an Internet cafe. Think about your impression of both spaces. Which do people really need?