The Deck vision of mobile computing [Follow Me Here...]
This is an interesting article, and an idea you can simulate today. I spent a good year and a half walking around with a Pocket PC, and camera, a keyboard, and a phone, and the necessary cables and cards so that I could connect them all together. I could check my e-mail on my phone, or I could use the Pocket PC with the phone to surf the web. The showpiece demo was when I bought my new glasses; I took a picture with the camera of the new frames, e-mailed them to Carrie, and then called her to get her opinion. It was a great demo, but took about twenty minutes to actually do, since it was a pain in the ass to actually make all of the pieces interoperate.
I eventually gave up the faux "deck" because the PowerBook provided all of that functionality and more. The deck seems compelling because you can choose which pieces you want to carry, so you can choose to only take subsets of it with you -- ergo, a potentially lighter gadget load. The problem is that you end up carrying it all around with you anyway. If you don't, you spend your time regretting that you forgot to bring part X, when it turns out you needed it to take advantage of a serendipitous opportunity.
(Also, I disagree a few of his technology assertions. First, it's deeply unlikely that the deck is going to be composed of a lot of display parts that you can disassemble and hand out. What's the point? The only real value to decomposable parts is if they serve different and complementary purposes -- a screen, a network device, and audio device, etc. Second, why would you need to hand out parts of your decks to others? These are small, personalized fetishes -- everyone's going to have their own, and because they're personalized they won't be the kind of things you'll trivially interchange [although it should be easy to buy a new one if you lose the old one, and re-personalize it with a quick, easy download]. I think the only way the screen could ever be decomposed in the way he envisions is if it's made out of nanotech silly putty, and you can just easily rip hunks off, or reshape it.)
Here's what I really want: a PowerBook with a detachable screen that is touch-sensitive and foldable. If you need to work while standing or walking, you can pull off the screen, fold it down to an easily handlable size (tablet size or PDA size, depending on the task), and do your work.
Obviously, there are big challenges here. I don't even know what would be involved in the foldable screen, but you've also got to deal with putting computing power and storage in the screen as well as the base. You could potentially require the base to be within radio contact of the screen in order for all of this to work, but we'll eventually get to the point where we have a real, high-speed, ubiquitous wireless Internet, so you could connect to the base over the 'net.
In the meantime, I just need to get a T68 Bluetooth-capable phone and a USB Bluetooth adapter. We're not quite yet to the point where we have cellular technology built into the computer itself (and phones are probably the only techno-fetish that will remain universally in demand, unlike PDAs). 12:25:16 AM ()