It bums me out to see nerds repeat what they perceive to be conventional wisdom like "desktop/laptop computing is dying, mobile is the future". There are so many tasks that normal users do that benefit from a full keyboard and a monitor-sized display with multiple windows. Some of those tasks will *always* be a pain on mobile, unless you connect with a kb/mouse + monitor at which point you're using a hobbled PC anyway. We are the torchbearers for general purpose computing, don't give up people.

Sometimes I think technical people internalize their exasperation with regressive mainstream forces within computing, eg Steve Jobs claiming that "PCs will become like trucks", and direct that into a kind of defeatism and anger at non-technical people. The fight for general purpose computing is absolutely vital, and it benefits more and less technical folks - the latter are not our enemy, the corporations that want to turn the world into one big walled garden are.


Deep down this is what we can't let happen: only a tiny percentage of people on this planet are able to create anything. That is a tragedy for all of humanity. The means to create things - writing, music, visual art, interactive things, performance etc - should be easily available to 7+ billion people. Not because of those activities' economic potential, but because they make being a human more bearable. Those are the stakes here.

One more note on this: the "death of the PC" idea is entirely about hardware makers turning up their nose at PCs once that became a very low-margin space. Everyone is trailing behind Apple, everyone wants to make a phone with a several-hundred-USD markup before people's buying slows down completely (and it has already started to). Blood-from-a-stone capitalist extraction will kill anything if there's little profit in it, no matter the cost to humanity.

@jplebreton thank you for this entire thread, and for addressing the importance of everybody having the ability to create things via an argument doesn't undermine creative paid labor -- which is another location of defeatism, as well as assumptions that negatively impact everybody

@jplebreton, maybe it’s just that computing, so long as one has access to it, for many, can be distributed? Having powerful hardware is less necessary—or noticed—when the outcome of the processing is available almost as instantaneously (and with up-keep costs spread out) over a network?

@jplebreton, sure, the markup on the “phone” in “iPhone” is attractive to those extracting profit from hardware, but it’s the “i” that makes it useful to those who buy it.

@jplebreton, so if/when there’s a greater actual/perceived cost to apps as network services, or centralized and surveilled data, the balance may shift back to localized computing?

@lucasrizoli you need at least a small amount of local CPU power (say, a raspberry pi) to take advantage of remote CPUs, and i think the former is all most people need most of the time anyway. But there's not much money in that. So the hardware companies keep pushing mobile specs.
I do think a distributed computational commons would be valuable, but Google et al won't build anything they can't surveil and control completely.

@jplebreton, of course—at least, so long as they cannot extract profit from it.

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