Information Age: Interesting Times
I thought of the first article when I was using my first hard personal hard drive, and getting on modem's in the early 80's, which way might the storage vs. network wars play out? Then I wrote the first version of this in the early 90's as we shifted from private networks (BBS's) to the Internet. Then I rewrote it in 1998 when the first iMac came out, without a floppy disk I remember plug-in storage that you carried around with you (pre-Flash Memory sticks) and relying on the network (the 'i' in iMac stood for Internet). Then, the minor edits below were in early 2002, just after the first iPod started taking off (and all your data/songs could be in your pocket). That one got more attention and was seen as "insightful" back then, but the article was already 20 years old, and based on concepts a decade older than that.
During most of the time, local storage seemed to be winning. But in the last few years, it seems like the cloud (virtual storage and network) is starting to take off. People are getting over their fear of unreliable networks, and just having faith in the virtual, and not needing the physical as much. So now days, a Smart Phone has both: more data in my pocket than ever before, and a faster network to the cloud and when we're out of cell-service, it feels like we're in a disoriented alter-world and we fell backwards 100 years in time: and it's only been less than a decade (2007) since the iPhone was first created, and 2008 since there was an App Store. It doesn't look like a clear winner is happening any time soon.
The future has been sneaking up on us, in slow motion, for as long as I've been alive. And I suspect it will continue to do so, long after I'm gone. But they have been "interesting times".
What is more import, our physical data or network access to that data? We flipped from timeshared terminals to PC's. The Web, Java and Chromebooks are all trying to return us back to the tether. And remember, there is no cloud, there's just network access to someone else's computer. So who wins? So far, we do, as both are getting better and competing for our hearts and wallets.
Alan Kay thought up the idea of the DynaBook in 1968 (which later became laptops, or tablets), by listening to those around him, predicting the same things. History and progress is happening in slow motion. It only seems fast, because we're moving slower.