IntroductionComputer technology has rapidly advanced over the past few decades and undeniably, it has started to act as that shroud which envelops almost all the aspects of everybody’s day to day living. In this paper, the researcher will try to present some of the most probable scenarios for the computer industry – from its impact to people to its evolutionary directions. In this paper, the researcher will explore the three areas of growth and change that seem to be evident in the computer industry: (a) The rise of the integration of computers into aspects of everyday life; (b) the changes resulting from the growing impact of social networking sights such as Facebook, Myspace, and more; and (c) the continued shift towards software dominance as hardware becomes an increasingly commoditized, low profit venture. Computer technology and everyday ordinary itemsIt cannot be denied that the various forms of computer technology have been used and increasingly integrated into everyday life – particularly, in ordinary items that most people use on an everyday basis. When computers were first introduced on a commercial range, the primary goal was at its most basic state – to distribute computers at a large scale so every family would have a computer on their desktops.
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In most highly developed nations, such has already been attained. Apart from rapidly becoming much of a necessity in every household, computers and computer technology are now being used in a variety of household and commercial appliances. It is quite typical to see that this type of technology is already in use in televisions, tracking devices, cellular phones, digital cameras, and even photo frames. It is also used in different modes of transportation – cars, buses, trams, trains, airplanes, and oversized navy ships.
Sooner or later, the integration of computer technology in various items will continue to flourish at a highly fast pace, allowing for the incorporation of computer chips and software in items that are rarely seen as technologically propelled tools like clothing, pillows, furniture, pens, and more. There is even a talking vodka bottle right now. Who knows? Maybe in the next few years, people can anticipate the coming of a pillow that shapes itself and adjusts its temperature based upon your preferences? Or perhaps people can create dresses that resist wrinkles and stains through the use of nano-sized computer chips? The possibilities are broad. It is easier to dream up integration ideas for almost any product than it is to think of items that could not be integrated to at least some degree. Apart from the integration of computing power to everyday items, the growth of computer technology will also probably move towards the management and facilitation of seeming unrelated items and activities. Now, there are cigarette lighters which have USB and internet broadband connectivity functions. However, the perfect example of this type of activity integration made possible through computer applications is the ‘ Tivo interactive DVR service’.
Using the said service, potential customers can watch television, order a pizza from the TV for delivery, and download recipes, and other useful items all from the same device. These different activities were already possible before. What’s different is that such activities are now integrated into one extremely simple process that would have been impossible even a few years ago. Definitely, such innovative form of application and activity synergy will affect day to day lives in a multitude of ways. By using computer technology-propelled devices that allow interactivity and the simultaneous accomplishment of once non-related activities, people can do a variety of things and complete more tasks in a short period of time. Moreover, possibilities and opportunities brought about by these integrative devices can also bring changes to various industries. They can use these for the different aspects of their commercial venture – advertising, marketing, distribution, and more.
Computer Technology, communication and social networkingHistorical narratives on computer technology show that social networking through the use of computers is not a new concept. People have already used computers often as a device for communication in the early 1970s. Many people have already tried to talk with each other through text-based online bulletin boards using services such as ‘ Compuserve’ and the early incarnation of AOL. Today however, the use of computer technology to communicate has rapidly expanded.
Indeed, computer technology has opened up the doors for what McLuhan dubs as the global village. The “ global village” refers to a virtual dimension where people from various parts of the globe can communicate as if they were just all on the same plane. These days, the global village is fast becoming a possibility through the existence of different instant messaging systems – Yahoo Messenger, Skype, and more. There are also e-mail systems which allow instant sending of messages to anywhere in the globe. There are also software applications that allow audio-based conference calling and even audio-visual conference calls. Such applications are also extremely vital not just for social interaction between families or social groups, but also for different commercial purposes needed by international companies.
Another difference that sets apart the computer technologies used for social networking before from those that are used these days is the segmentation of the application users. Decades ago, Compuserve and other networking outlets were only used by a very narrow segment of society – mainly those who are familiar with technological advancements and those who are capable of spending for such costly facilities. Today, almost everyone can use computer technology for communication purposes, for as long as their devices have internet connectivity. Indeed, although the technology has changed, the larger change has come with the broad-based adoption of computer-based communication through the use of SMS and MMS exchange services on mobile phones and through the use of social networking sites such as Facebook, Myspace, Friendster, Multiply and more. Today, it is commonplace for teenagers and young adults to text each other throughout the day. Then, once they are home, they can continue the “ dance” online through social networking websites.
The sophistication of these online communities continues to grow. Many are becoming virtual worlds, a place where the user can take on a guise, or avatar, of there own choosing and interact with others that have done the same. In these virtual communities, people not only get and exchange information through personal messaging. Instead, they get their dose of day to day data through news articles, forum postings, bulletin postings, and press releases which are also relayed through the mentioned websites.
One of the largest of these virtual worlds is “ Second Life”, though others are quickly catching up. Future growth in social networking has the potential to dramatically change the way people socialize. Some argue that online social networks can reduce the significant interaction received from the ‘ offline’ world. However, in a study made by Ellison, Steinfield, and Lampe published in the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, results show otherwise. The researchers of the said study concluded that online interactions do not necessarily “ remove people from their offline world”. What it does is to support already existing relationships by making it possible for people to always keep in contact regardless of wherever they are, at anytime of the day. What’s more is that the study demonstrated that social networking websites have allowed friends to keep in touch “ even when life changes move them away from each other” (Ellison, Steinfield, and Lampe, 2007). The study also showed that the use of computer technology for social networking can support the existence of different populations such as students in schools, professional researchers, community members, company employees, and other groups who can benefits from highly maintained relationships and ties (Ellison, Steinfield, and Lampe, 2007).
Aside from maintaining ties, social networking sites are also used by companies for building their brand images and other marketing purposes. That is why many companies try to advertise their products through the establishment of their own networking accounts. Also, social networks can be used for recruitment, the learning of new technologies of competitors, management of institutional knowledge for academic and scientific endeavors, the dissemination of peer to peer knowledge, and the acknowledgement of individual physicians and institutions. Computer Technology and the rise of software designingIndeed, the rise of software design as a critical component eclipsing hardware in importance will also contribute to the continuous evolution of computer technologies. In this world of rapidly advancing technologies, software is king. Hardware is often just dismissed as a commodity which is only profitable for only a short period of time as it is continuously subjected to modifications and advancements. People prize software applications because such serve as the core of every technological device. The software runs the internet, your home and office computer, your refrigerator, automobile, and almost every other electronic device imaginable.
In the next decades to come, it is easy to predict that computer engineers will largely be more in demand. Companies would need programmers who can design software applications for various purposes – especially commercial ones. Now, one can already observe a host of software applications already distributed in the market – software used for desktop publishing, graphic designing, computing, human resource management, auditing, Forex exchange brokerage, and more. There are also a dozen applications used for running factory machines, particularly CNC machining systems used for rapid production and packaging of different kinds of products. Probably, it will not be too far in the future when there would be a software application for almost every kind of activity. Technically, software design and ease of use in computer applications are becoming increasingly important as segments of the population that in times past were not interested in bringing technology into their lives now rush headlong into the computer world. Frustration, confusion, and even anger have often been the result.
In Samuel Dean’s article, he notes that companies such as Apple, Google, etc have been largely based on the idea that applications must also be made simple and, as much as possible, computers and the computing experience should be far from complexity and conflict – preferably, ‘ one tiny app at a time’ (Dean, 2007). Google says “ Search Made Simple”, and it’s true. Apple brings well designed phones, computers, and music players to the marketplace that, while not perfect, are still leagues ahead of their competition. Despite the rapid innovative ventures however, some attempts still fail at satisfying their targeted customers.
Many customers experience confusion from software applications that do not work, or works in unexpected ways. That is why research and development for computer designing should progress more. In the future, software designing will also probably be moving towards the creation of more secure technologies. ConclusionThe researcher notes that in the future decades to come, computer technologies will probably be applied to items that people use on a day to day basis – regardless of whether they are technologically-based or not.
What’s more is that the continuous improvement and the mushrooming of more social networking sites will give way to a Global village where people can communicate freely, regardless of wherever they are around the globe. Last but not the least; because of the increasing integration in the different aspects on people’s lives, software designing will be on the rise. ReferencesDean, Samuel. (2007) Designing the Future: One Tiny App at a Time. Published August 3, 2007, accessed May 24, 2009 from http://gigaom.
com/2007/08/03/designing-the-future-one-tiny-app-at-a-time/Ellison, NB, Steinfield, C., and Lampe, C. (2007). “ The Benefits of Network Sites”. Journal of Computer Mediated Communication.
Accessed May 24, 2009 from http://www. swinmc. net/documents/facebook. pdf