Game changers and iPhone killers

I received my new Wired Magazine this past weekend and wasn’t too surprised to see the iPad on the front cover. It is one of the latest and “greatest” devices to hit the market. I also wasn’t surprised to see more headlines about the slate/tablet being named the device of the future. Now I could go on a rant about the lack of flying cars (promised to my parents generation) but that horse is dead. Instead I want to address all of the game changing killer technologies that make sliced bread look like child’s play.

Cloud computing is a very useful and important technology. It saves companies millions, not to mention the extension of existing resources to offer better services. What isn’t making a lot of sense to me is the relentless pursuit of terminal computing at college campuses. I understand the cost savings. I even understand the resource utilization metrics. What I don’t understand is the blatant and apparent disregard for the innovative ideas that come out of the minds of students who have unrestricted access to state of the art technologies. Would Google, Facebook or the MP3 market exist without the resources students had  access to?

The point is, it doesn’t matter what game is changing or what tech is being killed. What matters is the fact that we are moving forward. “Old” technologies serve a purpose (believe it or not there is still a need for typewriters). I still prefer to use a desktop for some tasks. Not because I reject new technologies, but because they are better equipped for some tasks. New technologies don’t make existing technologies obsolete. They are improvements on previous innovations. Compare technology innovation to construction tool innovation. There are technologies in construction that make hammers, screwdrivers and even nails obsolete. The fact is those are the go too tools for any carpenter.

Why? Because they work. They are designed to accomplish a very specific task. Are there improvements? Yes! Do those improvements mean the older technology is obsolete? Not always. It simply means that the user needs to consider what is needed to complete the task at hand. Can more be done with less? Can less be done with more? Both questions are appropriate and necessary.

What are we doing to preserve the necessary tools in education? How can we reduce the cost of technology while preserving the capabilities for innnovation? Both of these questions should be plaguing higher education administrators; not one over the other.

Most of these institutions are publicly funded. Where do you stand? Save money or innovate? That, is the question.

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One Response to Game changers and iPhone killers

  1. Neal Cross says:

    Virtualization, of both servers and now desktops, is an interesting return to the terminal computing of “old”. I am starting to get the impression if you work in technology long enough, you’ll see old ideas reborn with new wording at least twice. We’re pondering the installation of some Virtual Desktoping at SBU, as soon as this summer. Sure, cost savings are in the mix, and I can understand how this seems like a step back on the innovation of having all the computing power in a box within arm’s reach.

    But I think, if done right (and presuming this able to deliver on the promises being made), Virtual Desktoping makes it easier for faculty, staff and students to have access to the software they need. A teacher can get things setup for class in their office, leave for their classroom, and log right into the “desktop” they just left behind in their office. No more slight differences to throw them off, no more Deep Frozen computers they cannot change or need to be updated with physical visits by computing staff.

    Students, with just enough computer power and Internet connectivity, can access their “desktop” to have access to the software they need to Get Things Done, no matter where or when they are. No more waiting for a lab seat, or being cut off when away for the weekend. A good benefit for faculty and staff, too.

    All that to say, I hope saving money and innovation do not have to be fully/mutually exclusive.

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