The computer and the Internet have arrived at a destination that allows interactivity beyond anything that has ever come before it. Some people prophesied that the personal PC will stop to become relevant in the course of this transition. While some of the next generation may be correct in their time, and I hope they are wrong, I am extremely skeptical that it will ever stop being something that normal people no longer own.
Since I am very pro-web you may wonder how I manage to take this stance. I completely agree with the stance that the SUN CEO prematurely made in the mid 90’s – the computer IS the network. I do however had a naïve stance that I thought paper money would eventually disappear. For me for the most part paper money is dead – the only time I use it is when I am curbing my spending. Paper money however does server an important function in the real world – privacy. We are all aware – more acutely since governments peering into our phone calls and library records in recent years – that using any form of electronic purchasing that the purchasing can be traced and tracked back to you. There is a basic level of security you could do such as purchasing a throw away debit card – the problem with this is twofold data can eventually be aggregated back to you with enough purchases that would give away the anonymity that prompted you to buy one to begin with or you or naïve enough to purchase it with something other than cash – at which point it is indirectly linked to you in a database.
Personal computers serve the same function. They allow a mediocre level of privacy but it’s better than nothing at this point. You can enhance it by using software as TOR which allows you anonymity – but remember it lacks privacy. There is also encryption – which doesn’t necessarily give you anonymity. If you didn’t get the hint you should use them both together if you want privacy AND anonymity. The personal PC allows us to store things privately that we don’t want to see in the rest of the world to reach. It allows us to have an endpoint that we can control with our own encryption and privacy.
Why am I writing this out? I am working on another blog post that is about working on blending your PC with the network. Allowing both unprecedented access to one another is something that is the end goal of programmers all around the globe now. I also hope they reach this goal. It is not like the having 90% of the applications you use sync online and have online components is a bad thing as long as you use precautions such as encryption and are aware of what information you are sharing online. I had an argument in one of my earlier posts about is there such a thing as too many online profiles. I still don’t think you do as long as you use each responsibly enough that you are aware of the information you are typing, uploading, accessing can be analyzed by your ISP and through that the government or any corporation with enough money. The only true secrecy you share is what you keep to yourself – that is why personal computers will allow exist – the right to privacy is one of the greatest tenets of the United States. While the government doesn’t always practice this belief, it is one of the things that this country was founded on.
Our privacy is dependent on things most others would believe to be antiquated that is why we can’t let them go. The PC, paper, pay phones, and other technology that allows for privacy of the individual in even in a mediocre degree will always have to be fought to exist when the givers of technology think we need them no longer. This is up to you to fight for as long as me. Let us pray the obsolete always exist to insure our freedom.