Thursday, March 22, 2007

Simple or not simple: that is the future.

To increase household penetration of PCs and the Internet, it appears that greater simplicity is desirable (and simpler devices such as WebTV may be one way to achieve it). This will require intelligence primarily at the edges of the network, not inside it, but intelligence that does not require extensive involvement by the users or systems experts to make it work.
Although there are forces that are pushing the IT industry towards simplification, other forces are working in the opposite direction. The industry is still searching for the next "killer app," and application developers are in control. Further, attempts to provide differentiated service levels on the Internet are complicating the scene for both developers and users.
Whether the result will be more or less complexity is hard to predict. However, the fundamental attraction of a dumb-looking network and dumb-looking computers is undeniable, and the most successful companies are likely to be the ones that can deliver in this area. The trouble with the PC and the Internet is that they are not dumb enough. We should gain from putting more resources and intelligence into computing and networking to make them seem dumber.

Liberally taken by Andrew Odlyzko
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