Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Change is in the Air...

It's all beginning to make sense to me! In only a few short weeks, I've gained firsthand experience at how the 'air' technologies I recently reviewed, may foreshadow a significant shift in computing.

Adobe Air's promise of innovative branded desktop applications is now evident on my computer, courtesy of a new app called Twhirl. Essentially, a developer has taken the Twitter engine and posted it within a separate 'Air' envelope that runs independent of my browser. Maybe Adobe is right, as developers have had very limited time to use the tools, I suspect that new applications will begin showing up regularly.

While I didn't purchase the newMacBook Air, I had a unique 'airy' experience in upgrading my computer this week. My new Macbook Pro did indeed come with a disk drive, but believe it or not, I installed all of my software, and transferred all of my documents, with nary the involvement of the optical drive! Even installing MS Windows (I went with XP) and MS Office was done by downloading disk images that installed with key codes that were provided via email. Maybe Apple is right... maybe disk drives will become obsolete sooner than we expect?

Even though I downloaded fairly bloated Microsoft programs, I think that we may be about to have a Renaissance of sorts in the development of low memory, micro-coded 'air' programs that I suspect will be provided for 'free'. The tools used to produce new streamlined applications are already available to developers at low or no cost. In addition to Adobe Air, the tea leaves to consider include:Adobe Air, Ruby on Rails, Android (the Google phone software), or the Apple iPhone Developer Program.

Is this important? YES! Consider that many of the applications under development will run on telephones and that both the applications and the phones will be provided at low or no cost, and we will have ubiquitous computing. In my opinion, this is how education will finally achieve 1:1 computing (if not an even higher ratio!).

I also think that very soon, the term cell phone will be inadequate to describe the communication devices we will be using. For the record, I support the move to start calling these things 'communicators'.

Additional content is available on the spring equinox episode of the Teacher 2.0 Podcast.

Photo Credit: TCM Hitchhiker (Jason)