Ok, so that was a slight paraphrasing of Alan Kay.
I just listened to Miha Kralj talk about how IT will change over the next 10 years, and why we should care about this. It was a refreshingly un-TechEd:y session, focusing more on global issues shaping our industry, and on trends that will be as disruptive as the move from mainframes was a few decades ago. I found the session to be very insightful, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. It’s great that the TechEd organizers see that it is important to make us developer types aware of what’s going on around as, and what the bigger picture is.
I won’t repeat the whole talk here, but there were a few topics that resounded with me which I want to comment a bit on.
- How will the mySpace and facebook-generation accept the current rules of the corporate environments our generation and the one before it have created? Obviously they will not. This is something I’ve talked to several of our customers about, and I suspect it’s something that will keep us IT people very busy in the next few years. The next generation (which is actually now entering the workforce) will have demands we can’t meet, and we will have to find a way to supply it. The only problem I see is that we’ll have to meet it fast, and shipping things fast isn’t something our industry has traditionally been that good at. As an industry we need to improve greatly in order to keep our future users happy.
- Utility computing and IT as a service. Ok, I’m sure everyone agrees that obviously this is a major disruptor. Hardware is becoming less and less interesting (count the number of hardware vendors exhibiting at TechEd if you want proof of that), and being green requires that the number of data and hosting centers in the world is reduced (and located in places where it makes sense).
- How we interact with computers will and needs to change. One of my favorite quotes from the presentation was “Mouse and keyboards are so nineties”. I couldn’t agree more. Having used an iPhone for a few months now I wouldn’t want to go back to a non-touch enabled phone. It’s just so much faster, easier and more intuitive to use. And Windows 7, with its touch-enabled interface is something I’m really looking forward to. Let’s hope the hardware vendors get with the program quickly enough, so that there actually are good devices out there when version 7 ships.
- Social computing is here to stay. It helps fulfill our basic human needs for interaction with others, and to be perceived by others in a way that we find fulfilling. And it is entering the workplace. The issues raised in point one of this list will make sure of that.
All of these (and the rest of the stuff in the presentation) are signs that our industry is maturing. In certain areas (hardware and hosting being one of them), gone will be the snake oil-peddlers and the tinkerers and the garage operations. Overall we will have to accept that we and those who came before us built our current computer-oriented world, but we weren’t born into it. The generations after us, the “digital natives”, will be the ones that define the rules, and the rest of us, the “digital immigrants”, will be left by the wayside, unless we make an effort both to enable our future world and to make sure we stay part of it. Otherwise this time the natives will kick out the immigrants.
Oh, and on a not-so-connected point, Miha is one of that rare breed of speakers who actually knows how to present well and how to construct the information you are presenting. Great and simple slides, balancing verbal, visual and aural communication. Please all of you who do presentations, read the book Beyond Bullet Points, and have a look at PresentationZen. You need it, seriously.