FROM THE TUSTIN NEWS, THURSDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2006


THE DOC IS IN...

Computing has changed since 1999

“You” are Time Magazine’s “Person of the Year,” and you made it happen. Time, in making their decision, recognized that how we use our computers has changed drastically, especially in the last year.

I just reviewed articles I have written for The Tustin News since November 1999 and can see how things have changed. Many had to do with how we make our computers better. Do we add hard drives, compact disk burners and other gadgets to make our computers more versatile? But Time Magazine and its editors recognized that it’s not the gadgets that make modern computing so compelling, but the people sitting at the keyboard. The computer has become a gadget itself that lets us, its users, interact with the wider world. The computer isn’t interacting, we are. This is a fundamental change.

Are you familiar with “Wikipedia,” (www.wikipedia.org) the free interactive, on-line encyclopedia? A writer will start an entry and, as it is read, others can make changes to its content. It makes use of the old adage that a group can make better decisions than an individual, though some of the resulting entries get rather interesting.

And the “blogosphere” has become the world’s meeting place. Were the primary election results in Connecticut a result of bloggers? Has www.tvnewser.com become the “must read” for the television industry? Anyone with any “information,” rumor or whatever now can “publish” on the Internet and be read by millions. And we can interact with these blogs by posting our own comments and start wide ranging discussions which can become quite influential.

The December 17, New York Times had an article about Nielsen BuzzMetrics, a company that searches the blogosphere for opinions about products, favorable or not, and reports results to sponsoring companies. Just another indication of how powerful we, the interactive users, have become.

And there is “YouTube,” the unbelievable phenomenon. Less than two years old with over 100 million videos watched each day and recently sold to Google for $1.65 billion, the two young founders themselves were considered to become “Person of the Year.” How things have changed. Was the defeat of Senator George Allen of Virginia a result of a damaging video shown on YouTube? What power.

So computing has changed drastically over the last few years. Think about it. Comdex, the giant computer convention where producers showed off their latest gadgets, is gone. It has been replaced in the industry by the Consumer Electronics Show because the computer has become a commodity, just like cell phones and television sets. We purchase new machines from a variety of manufactures knowing that they will come with all we need to enjoy our visits to cyberspace. Forget the technical jargon; just send a machine that will let me interact with the world.

Another change in the world is that Jill Leach, my Tustin News editor for these last seven years is retiring. We wish her the very best in whatever her next adventure might be. She changed a word here and there and made these musings better. Good Luck, Jill.

If you would like to hear more about “us,” the “Person of the Year,” or other computer topics, visit “Coffee and Computers” at the Tustin Area Senior Center, 200 S. ‘C’ Street, any Friday morning starting at 9 a.m. Bring your questions or just come in and visit. And visit my blog at drart.blogs.com.

In the mean time, keep the neurons happy, synapses snapping and enjoy computing.

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Dr. Art Holub is a long time resident of Tustin and teaches computer and Internet courses at the Tustin Area Senior Center and the Tustin Adult School. Visit his web site at: www.arholub.com. This column is written to address the computer adventures and concerns of older adults. If you have comments, questions or suggestions for future columns, Email HIM at: doc@arholub.com.


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