Apr 16

The World of Computing: What’s In Store for 2010?

Tech Talk
Joel T. Fagsao
Whew!  Another year has gone and here we are in 2010.  Looking back through my 18 years of involvement in computers and information technology has been an enriching experience.  In college, our batch used the Commodore 54, a computer with a TV (black and white) screen for a monitor and a cassette tape for a storage device.  We used BASIC a programming language to create applications.  That was 1985. Then we were the first batch to use the new IBM XT computers.  At that time, hard disks were unheard-of and we had to use floppy disks (5 ¼ in size) to boot or getting us started on the computer.  The boot disk contained an operating system called Disk Operating System or DOS.  After you boot from DOS, you remove the disk and insert another floppy drive containing an application or program.  I remember, we learned Lotus 123 a spreadsheets application and DBASE 3plus, a database management application.  Files were stored or saved on a floppy drive that had a capacity of 360 kilobytes.  Now that is a far cry from a gigabyte (a billion bytes of storage capacity) or terabyte of storage space.

When Windows 3.1 debuted that was the first time I experienced using the mouse.  At this point the world has advanced to using a Graphical Unit Interface (GUI).  The GUI is the principle still in use until today.  This enables us to use computer applications or programs through interaction with symbols, graphics or icons, word commands and links.  That was in 1992 and several years later you now have Windows 7.0 as an operating system in more advanced and powerful computers.

What gave excitement to those who embraced computer technology was having the Internet infrastructure available to the public.  The Internet then was exclusive to the US military services until the technology was made available to the public in the early 90’s.  The World Wide Web which is a facility of the Internet created an information explosion never before imagined for all mankind.  Prior to this, information resources were limited to the developed nations.  With the capacity to link to several networks of computers containing vast amounts of information, the World Wide Web (WWW) set a level playing field for everyone whether you are in a rich or poor country.  Of course access to the Internet was limited by telecommunications infrastructure.  My first Internet access experience was through a landline phone connected to a modem.  It was quite crude.  You dial your Interenet Service Provider based in Baguio City and so you were charged for the equivalent of a long distance call every time you use the Internet.  The speed at 54 kilobytes of data per second was quite slow.  Then satellite access made it possible but the cost was at a prohibitive 12,000.00 pesos a month.

With the developments in technology I have seen tech based businesses come and go.  From analogue technology, the world moved on to digital.  I remember hooking up an analogue video camera to a video card installed on a computer.  It was my first foray into the digital world.  Images taken by an analogue video camera (one that uses a V8 tape) was converted to a digital file by the camera.  I used the camera to take ID pictures of customers who could not wait for several hours for an ID to be developed the traditional way.  The funny thing is a lot of institutions were so attached to traditional systems that it really took time for everyone to embrace newer technologies.  So from the Betamax format to VHS then on to CD then DVD and then we now have BLU-Ray for the video industry.  From CRT (cathode ray tube) to LCD monitors (flat, thin screens) then on to the more energy saving Light Emitting Diodes (LED) technologies for monitors.  Then from desktop computers, we now see knowledge workers carrying laptops or notebooks or the smaller version called a net book.

Convergence of various technologies and the widespread use of the Internet infrastructure really made a difference.  By convergence we can now integrate a mobile phone, a digital camera, a video camera, audio players with the computer.  The Internet closed the gap by making available new ways to communicate via the World Wide Web.  So what’s in store for 2010 in the world of computers and related technologies?   I see an increase in the use of social sites such as Facebook, Multiply and others.  If you were born at a time when slum notebooks were in vogue, social sites such as Friendster, MySpace are the “digital” versions.  This gives me the impression that developments in computers and the online world are influenced by what mankind has been doing in the past.  Online developers look to history as their inspiration for creating something new.  This year will also be the start of getting more computer literates to explore the use of free software.  While Microsoft’s Office suite continues to evolve, programmers continue to develop alternative software applications that are downloadable.   Cost still becomes a factor in choosing a computer application.  I also see an increase in the use of the Internet for banking and other money related transactions.  E-commerce or doing business online will see an increase among our more forward looking local entrepreneurs.  Those who continue to stick to older technologies or systems will fall behind.  Institutions, organizations and even personalities will realize the importance of having a website. As more Filipinos will look to the World Wide Web as an information source, you cannot afford not to have one.  Costs of Internet access will continue to go down and become widely available.  Mapping our communities with Google Earth and other emerging similar technologies will enable us to move on to develop more useful and creative uses of mapping technologies.  Of course threats from viruses and identity theft continue to be a cause of concern.  Thus we have to arm ourselves with sufficient information and systems on how to counter threats.  Journalism will take a new form through blogs.  Blogs enable everyone to write and publish their thoughts online.  Blogs continue to flourish and some are more eloquent, frank and to the point.  Blogs can put to shame this paper’s Comment Text.  Blogs have become the literal “pen is mightier than the sword.”  In fact we can call it “blogs are mightier than the high powered gun.”  As 2010 roars, I will also look forward to the use of the Internet infrastructure to uplift economic and living conditions in poorer nations.  Now this is the challenge to all creative minds out there.