There's a debate going on about tablets. Are they actually PC's? Steve Jobs says "no". Last week when he showed up off medical leave to introduce the iPad 2, Jobs declared this the Post-PC era. He has a point. But while Jobs thinks this is a good thing, I'm not so sure.
Forgive the over-simplification, but PC's are optimal for creating content (drafting documents, spreadsheets, producing web sites and multi-media, etc.). Tablets and mobile devices are optimal for consuming content.
If we are moving into a post-PC era (and I believe we are), I am concerned that it will ultimately move us away from the great democratization brought on by the web. It's one thing to allow freedom of speech in a society. The Internet, however, actually gives everyone a platform to do it. Look at the rise of the "citizen journalist" in recent years. Look at how Youtube has transformed television.
All of this has been powered by the PC era.
I'm sure some of you will want to quickly point out that social networking has demonstrated that it goes hand in hand with mobile devices and now tablets. And, that's all about creating content. Right?
I will agree, but its hardly deep. Social networking tends to be quick, shallow and impulsive. While the people of Egypt have shown that you can topple a 30 year old totalitarian regime in bursts of 140 characters ala Twitter or text, it remains to be seen whether they can draft a constitution that will endure once the revolution is over. I daresay you can't do it with your thumbs.
So, what happens in the next few years when the average Joe chucks his desktop or laptop and decides to go with just a tablet and a smartphone? Who will then create all this content we are consuming?
Last updated: Mar 7, 2011
RENEE ORICCHIO is a technology writer and former supervising news producer for CNN Financial News. She has been covering the computer industry since 1987. @oricchio