August 24, 2004

getting smarter

Way back when, we used to have conversations like “what will we do with all the processing power that PCs will give us?” And those conversations used to center around things like photorealistic virtual reality computing environments, like the one demo’d in that crappy Michael Douglas and Demi Moore movie where they’re chasing each other through room after room of file cabinets or something.

But it’s only recently that I’ve had a machine fast enough to let me turn on Word’s autospell checking functionality without having it feel like my screen refresh speed was slowed to a sluggish crawl. (I type reasonably fast, and a less than snappy editing control just kills it for me.) Now, you could blame that on the Word team (and you’d probably be right in doing so), but I’m looking at the glass half full – not only is my machine able to parse spelling in the background, it’s also able to do things like manage presence, index files, check for mail, play music and download files in the background (not to mention all the several layers down stuff like run my display, manage memory, etc.), all while preserving my snappy writing environment.

This is why I’m bullish on things like Blinkx, Dashboard, Lookout, X1, Apple’s Spotlight and some of the more interesting features of Longhorn – apps that leverage Moore’s law not for whiz and bang, but for finding and contextualizing information that’s of interest to me, right now.

Yeah, yeah…this is all stuff some people have had for years (decades?), and if you knew what you were doing, you could have this all today. But still…never underestimate the importance (and difficulty) of migrating these apps to the average user. Rememberance agents for everyone!