In 1982 instead of naming a "Person of the Year" Time Inc. named the personal computer "Machine of the Year". In 1985 Microsoft released the first Windows computer with a GUI (Graphical User Interface) and a mouse. More than 25 years later this is still the basic form factor most people think of when they think "computer". It's time for a new definition.
99% of people still think of a standalone device that sits under their desk or a laptop they carry around in their bag. I still remember sitting in training at Cerner Corporation, the person providing the lecture asked the class, "who knows what a server is?" followed up quickly by "a server is a computer and a computer is a server. That laptop you've got is a server". That's when it clicked for me that these babies didn't mean much as individuals - it was when you put them together that things started getting interesting.
When's the last time you sat down and worked on a computer that wasn't connected to the Internet? Writing emails on a plane doesn't count, that just means you're not being creative enough with your time. Seriously though, do you ever use a computer when it's not connected to the Internet? I don't.
What does this mean? First and foremost it's time to start thinking about the "computer" and more specifically "computers" VERY differently. It is critical we change our thinking because it is required in order to realize the potential at our disposal.
It's all about the Internet. The Internet is the most disruptive innovation in human history. The Information Revolution, which has only barely started, will make the Industrial Revolution look like a relatively small event. Today you don't have "a computer" you have millions! The idea of a computer we carry around in our mind is little more than a distant memory.
For many people their idea of a computer has become baggage keeping them from realizing the full value available to them. People talk on Facebook about how hard it is to get work email on their phone. They post notes on Twitter about having to go into the office again to access a document. They quickly see who's available to chat on Facebook because they don't have the ability to see presence or chat at work so they emailed the question over instead. We post videos, chat, message and anything we want in our personal lives but still think these things should be difficult at work - they shouldn't be and they're not.
When we think of "computers" as sitting on our desk we're thinking about the past rather than the present or the future. It took 20 years to develop our Windows and Office habits and now we're comfortable in that world. It's time to be uncomfortable. It's time to learn something new. You have millions of computers just waiting for you to realize they're there.