From the archives: Analyzing value of this personal computer

By | August 7, 2012

Continuing the thread of thought from the previous post, what was once a productivity tool for word processing, data analysis, document management – aah, the days when we were told that the paperless office was right around the corner – has become in fact a communications tool.

Now, if we take a step back from that thought, and look at it from the point of view of value analysis, identifying the basic function and secondary function of this ‘gadget’ or ‘machine’ – there has been a reversal in terms of what the basic function of this tool is and what the secondary function. Similarly, the next step is assign ‘value’ to each function – therefore, if one were consider that the trend towards the majority of the applications that were originally available to us ONLY in terms of what was on our hard drive [or floppy if you’re old enough to remember Scripsit] now available freely online [thank you google] for the most part, how does this effect the ‘value’ of each function – the processing function [cpu] and the communications function [being able to access the internet]?

Today, I don’t need my fixed location desktop or even my portable laptop to access my workspace [except for MS Office and even that is out of habit more than anything else].

I can go and sit down at any connected machine anywhere in the world that allows me access to the interweb and I can write and post to my blog, access my research and bookmarks, look up my photograph collection and pay my rent.

But that’s just ‘playing around’ online, that’s not your real work, some might say. It depends, I’d answer. We are at an inflexion point here, imho, and as the digital infants growing up totally and wholly immersed in an internetworked world start to go to ‘work’, how do you think they will collaborate, communicate, connect and conduct commerce?

Today, I don’t simply interact with this computer, I interact with other human beings on other devices around the world, via the computer’s keyboard and connection.

So the basic function of this tool and the secondary function of this tool, for me at least, has reversed itself over the past decade, one could say, conceivably.

I value this box more today for its current primary function of allowing me to access the webworld than for its secondary function of allowing me to track my recipes, balance my checkbook or write a neatly edited document that can be prettily printed.

Originally published April 23 2007

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