What’s the last big lump of work you threw at your CPU? Financial calculations? Nah, too easy; unless you are a PHD mathematician working on Wall Street. MP3 encoding? Yeah, that’s my offense. MKV video might be yours. Either one will chew up some clock cycles like crazy. But after you’ve ripped all your CDs to your home media server and done the same for all your DVDs, what’s next? More, new content? Who thinks their CPU can’t keep up with a broadband connection, fiber even? Is there anything worthy of the extreme amount of processing power we all covet, in a never ending upgrade cycle?
I have a dream, and it goes like this. Just about all day, every day, I have one of life’s little question, like “How much did gasoline really cost when I was a teenager, adjusted for inflation?” I flip open my phone, the smallest, sleekest, and handiest device for personal carry, and in a quiet, dulcet tone, ask my burning question of the moment in plain English. The response is a reassuring, “Hmmmm, let me think about that.” My phone, or whoever/whatever is in the background doing all the thinking, already knows when I was born, where I grew up, all the little details about my first car, and the Clark gas station on the corner where we all hung out, and everything there is to know about my best friend in High School, including the things that only he and I know, and all about my first girlfriend, ditto for her. My phone knows everything, and just like the best friend that it is, it won’t tell anyone anything unless I ask it to. I have this same dream every night.
How are you going to fit all that into a phone, you ask? You can't, at least not yet. But I bet I could fit it all onto a medium-sized server and SAN in my house, if I tried hard enough. I also bet my phone can communicate with my server, that’s child’s play. Now all I need is an app.
Classic Systems Engineering principles teach that the way things are interfaced, or linked, is at least as important as the characteristics of the individual components. So it is with information. Maybe I can document every gallon of gasoline I’ve ever purchased, but without a rich network of contextual information, that list of purchases doesn’t tell me enough. Maybe I want to write a chastising letter to BP and tell them how much money I’ve passed their way over the years, and an estimate of the future purchases I’m not going to make from them unless they clean up their act. I need a completely different set of contextual links, to go along with the base data set of my purchasing history, than I did to answer the first question I had today regarding gasoline.
So, I already know that such an outcome is already available for a fee. Congress does it
, the idle rich do it
, my boss does it, and everybody’s got a service monkey, except me.
By now, you’re no doubt asking, “What does this have to do with an article about a mid-range motherboard that uses one of Intel’s latest processors?” Well, there’s a certain element of “Build it and they will come.” at work here. The very existence of the iPhone generated an explosion of apps, and in amongst the drivel was some very useful functionality. So, I keep building faster and more powerful computers, in the evergreen hope that one day my app will come.
The success of Google is not an anomaly, you know; people have questions, and the answers are out there. The thing is, we all want our very own, personal Google. And my Google will be so smart, and so powerful, and so in touch with ME, that it will become a part of me. Here’s the kicker: I don’t want my Google in the cloud. I want it tucked away behind a firewall in my basement. I may use the cloud as a communication network, I will have to use it to access other pools of information, but my Google needs to belong exclusively to me. I don’t ever want it in the public domain, ever! When I die, I want my Google buried along with me.
What do you think, dream or nightmare?