So everything’s going back server-side. At least for one flavor of “computer”. The concept will be so ubiquitous that appending “virtual” to it will be superfluous. The philosophical justification for it will be that one’s informational “center” should be this insubstantial, nongeographical pure mind, divorced from a particular earthly coil. Of course, it will actually reside somewhere, but that somewhere will be a sector on a harddrive or distributed across a vast Google-esque cluster. Best of all is if it’s distributed across a reliable peer-to-peer network…

Your data is going to live on the web. This seems to be because 1) you can get it there from anywhere without special software, 2) it can be shared (with your permission) more easily from there 3) companies want it out there so they can ask your permission to interact with it and provide services based on it. These companies (especially Google) are going to keep developing web side applications until the server hosts the best features of a full-fledged operating system. One effect is that a Google (and a Microsoft, and a Sun…) will start offering a “free high-powered computer” to anyone who has access to an Internet cafe or library. Or cheapo portable terminals will be offered (try: an E-ink electronic paper sheet attached to a Gumstix CPU and a Bluetooth unit) at convenience stores.

It’s not clear what’s going to happen to your hardware. It may be that actually owning a computer will be a sign of conspicuous consumption in the future.

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