This may be the year that many of us start using the Internet in a new way: to run our applications and store our data. Enter MyHardDisk.com.
This isn't to say that thin clients have finally arrived: I still want lots of software to run on my local hard drive. (Would it be too much to ask for a reliable operating system?) But what has happened is this: I can now easily offload more and more of my PC computing tasks, like backup and paying my taxes to the web. And I can run applications off the web using a browser and a reasonably fast connection.
No longer just a communications medium or an information repository, the Internet is becoming more like a public utility.
The key technology that got me there was continuous access: I now have a cable modem at home and Covad DSL service at the office. Because the Internet is always on, it it's easier to access web-based services and resources. And since I store my files on the net, I haven't needed to carry a laptop in years. When I want to work on the road, I almost always have Internet access nearby. (You can even connect to the web from Burger King, not to mention the local library, Kinko's, cybercafes and even some hotels and airports.)
Here are some of the ways I have begun using the Internet to run my own applications:
What else do all of these applications have in common? None are from Microsoft. The ultimate irony, as Windows 2000, or should I say Office 2000, becomes more Internet-capable is that there will be more and more of these browser-based applications that have nothing to do with Windows. All of this points towards using the web as more of a utility. The days of buying pre-packaged applications is quickly coming to an end.
I'm not alone here in thinking that the web is changing how people interact with their applications. Dan Gillmor wrote a terrific piece on the topic in his last week's San Jose Mercury column
This is just the beginning on MyHardDisk.com. I'd love to hear innovative ways you are using the Internet to run your own applications.
My most recent review for Computerworld is on lightweight LCD projectors. They cost under $10,000 and are brighter than some of the older and heavier models.
Those of you that are near NY City are invited to join me in a panel discussion on how the Internet is changing nature of church and state for the Magazine Publishers' Association this Wednesday. Send me email for more information on the seminar.
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