Friday, 26 October 2012

Why Windows 8 is so significant

Windows 8, with what a Microsoft expert has since told me is the wrong screen resolution. Well it was only a VM.

Window 8 with its stress of mobility and Cloud is the point of no return.  Very shortly these new social patterns are going to be core of the computer experience everywhere as we moved to the most massive communication revolution in hundred if not thousands of years. 
I have recently reviewed Windows 8 along with other tablet based OS before the release of Windows 8.  At first I was a bit sceptical about Windows 8.  The metro style interface seemed unnecessary for a desktop computer, and actually a bit hard to use.  For desktop computing I can't really see any advantage of Windows 8 to Windows 7, to Windows XP, to Ubuntu and other forms of Linux and to OS X.  

But that is thinking from a desktop view of the world. Windows 8 is a fully mobile platform.  

Its critical to start thinking more and more about the space and place that you use a computer.  Windows 8 is a major critical step in moving from a world of fixed places where we interact with the computer and thus the Internet in to a Internet that is everywhere.

This is a fundamental change that is already happening in how we live with computers.  Until fairly recently a computer was reserved to a special place, a special room in a house or an area of a bedroom, a cubical, or other fixed location we would have to return to in order to use the computer and thus enter cyberspace.  As a fixed location social event computer usage used to be a rather private activity, and the community and culture that evolved around it was on that stressed a dislocated concept of 'cyberspace.'

10 years ago it was common not to know the names of people in your community online, or have detailed knowledge for where they lived or worked.  The community created by people in private fixed spaces stressed an alternative reality concept of cyberspace.  One where private fantasies could dominate real life concerns.

Second Life is the ultimate expression of this kind of life.  To use Second Life you needed a very good computer, well beyond the laptops most people could afford.  Mobile access was always limited to voice only.  So to get the full 'space' Second Life was creating for you one really need a high end machine with amazing graphics card and high speed broadband.   This heavy interact need to sit in a fixed location on a desk.  I recall when I was still often using Second Life feeling isolated from my community when I went on vacation or had to travel on work.  If I wanted to reconnect to the cyber-community I had to go through a ceremony of establishing wifi connection and arranging a place to sit in a new hotel room.

Needless to say I had little idea of the real lives of the people I meet in Second Life.  It was like meeting people via their dreams.  This concept of the space created by the Internet was most represented by the Matrix, where in reality with are people in tubes interacting in utterly false Avatars in a false space that we definitely did not exist.

To put it simply, and in terms of Matrix, the old web is the world where there is a red and a blue pill.  You have a clear demarcation between inside and outside.  The Internet is connected to a fixed computer in a private room, you enter the space via a set of deliberate steps and you can decide to leave it.

Web 3.0 changes all of that.  The Internet is not only something that can be with you at all time, but it also creates a space which is intimately connected the real world.  Sites like Foursquare and Yelp establish and extend our 'real world' personas in to information about reality.  Foursquare by its nature values the mobility.  You get more badges by moving about and doing things, or at least checking in to things.

Certainly there is a level of dulling of reality that Web 3.0 brings about as well.  We check in to places we are close to but not in, we don't explore as much as filter searches of areas.

But the way in which the Internet is given to us is changing the rituals and social practise of going on line, moving it from the private to the public space, and that is changing the way we interact with the Internet and the way we construct identity on the Internet.  Window 8 with its stress of mobility and Cloud is the point of no return.  Very shortly these new social patterns are going to be core of the computer experience everywhere as we moved to the most massive communication revolution in hundred if not thousands of years. 


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