A Look at the Computer Issues of the Future (Ick!)

By John C. Dvorak

[Note to editor: As you know, I always write snide comments to myself when doing this column. I've tried to remove most of them. Make sure you take out the rest. OK? … John]

It's time to look at this year's theme columns (b-o-r-i-n-g). Every year, columnists spend some time with a glass of Palo Cortado (yeah, right) and spend a few contemplative hours (10 minutes) in an attempt to discover within themselves the important themes for the next 18 months. There's nothing more important (except asking for more money or watching TV) to a columnist than making certain that the public is getting the information it deserves (hah). While the ads and features provide a lot of information, the columnists provide all the insight (except for Penn Jillette).

Here are the interesting (if you're bedridden in an Iraqi prison, maybe) topics that I believe will be the focus of many columnists' writings over the next year or so (next decade, if they can get away with it).

First there's the PowerPC. This is the new RISC chip from that Apple-IBM-Motorola consortium (talk about a weird group of people getting together - can you imagine!). Expect to see articles about how great it is (written by people who don't know a potato chip from a silicon chip) as well as criticism of it (by stooges for Intel).

A lot of discussion will be about how IBM intends to market the chip in a system (I'm still not convinced they can even spell the word MARKETING). Some discussion will be about Apple's versions of the PowerPC system (written by people who still have trouble using a mouse). And there will be the inevitable discussion (ramble) about how the two platforms - Mac and PC - will merge (in a pig's eye).

While on the subject of Apple (duh, what a transition!) we can expect to see a few articles on Apple's potential licensing (what a joke) of its System 7 operating system in the PC world (I can't stop laughing - Timmy, can you say, "lack of device drivers?"). There will be a lot of solid testing by the labs (let's see what happens if we drop it off a cliff) and debates over its viability as an operating system (here come the Microsoft PR people!).

Then we can expect what I call the "regular" (running out of material already?) issues, which look like they have life (like a corpse) left in them. (Where's Jack Kevorkian when we need him?) At the top of the list (dung pile) is: "Where will the next killer application come from?" Will it come from a big company (any minute, hardy har har) or from some small garage operation (developed by a psychopath with no life). Some will argue that the future is now with the well-financed big corporation (Microsoft lackeys), while others will support the small-time operators (dreamers).

Then we have the good old, "Let's complain about the computer store" column. (can anything be easier than writing one of those?) What's particularly amusing is that few computer stores (very very few) carry a selection of good magazines. This is because the magazines have too many direct-mail ads that computer stores see as competition to their business (talk about paranoid). So, the computer store owner employees never read these columns (if they can read at all - hehehehe). I think once in ten years a computer store owner wrote in about one of these columns (he used a crayon) to rebut some assertions. Anyway, it's easy pickings, so expect more columns about retail.

Next on the column agenda will be musings about IBM and its comeback. Will it make a comeback? (Yes, then Gerstner will quit. That should be fun to watch.) Or will it just be another bloated, too-big-for-today's-world company? (How about both a comeback AND bloated?)

This brings us to Digital Equipment Corporation (Who? Is that company still in business?) Where does it fit into the scheme of things? (I'm sure it wished it knew too!) Some columnists will look at the various minimakers trying to get a foothold in the micro arena (how can they stop laughing while writing this stuff?) and the future of the midrange computer (landfill).

Then we have the Internet (the information dirt road) and its impact (as a time-waster) on society. Newcomers (rubes without a clue) to the field of column writing (pontificating) sometimes get caught up in the Internet phenomenon, and we'll see a lot of (thousands of gah-gah goo-goo) positive articles (drivel) affirming the importance of the Internet in today's world (gag, puke).

And finally, as networks become more and more popular (yawn, snooze), many writers will discuss the importance of being connected (only because their editor made them do it), and how connectivity is more important than ever (we can use these articles as a substitute for barbiturates). The next few years look exciting indeed! (Not!)