The PC is officially dead. There can be no further debate.

Autodesk, Otoy, Mozilla and Amazon come together to work on something that will not only transform the design industry, it will level the playing field. It seems an unlikely alliance, however these companies are all at the top of their game, and each one is all about the experience of using their products and services. The way we work and play will be significantly impacted for some time to come. The lowered cost of entry in using professional tools will also make many industries much more competitive. Small firms and large will each have access to the same high-performance infrastructure — no IT required. It will enable collaboration in ways that will shortly bring real-time, geographically-dispersed teamwork to the AEC industry. Press releases here and here.

Can you hear that? It’s the sound of an industry dying. Like the silence of a cloud floating overhead, the calm before the storm, a illusion of tranquility — the storm is a lot closer than it looks. This day seemed as though it were a decade or more away, despite all the industry executives predicting it was upon us. It was inevitable, and it is now here.

You had a good run, PC. With 30 years of mainstream success, it’s nothing to be ashamed of. You did great things. Look back on those achievements with pride. You will have space in our memory (though you have none in yours), and in our hearts and our museums. Actually, little PC, don’t be blue. You don’t even need to be retired. That’s the most awesome part of this announcement. You just need to run a browser. That’s all, nothing more. You might even be refreshed with a new OS, one that has very little function but connecting to the internet.

HTML5 brings device independence to all

It’s out there. Waiting. Patiently for what ever you can throw at it. Gone are the days of spinning beach balls, the eternal hourglasses, and blue rings of death. You are free, free to be anywhere. Do anything. The next big thing? Well, it isn’t the tool we hold in our hand (because we can hold mobile devices in one hand now, after all). It is the services that allow us to connect to the work we get done. Oh, the possibilities.

A new name is needed to describe this thing out there in the tubes. In spirit, it’s very similar to that thing we call the PC. Personal Computer? That word doesn’t fit. After all, it is not necessarily personal anymore, and not necessarily a single computer. Sure, you can call this “the cloud”. That is meaningless jargon. Perhaps Community Computing, or maybe even as Autodesk likes to call it: Infinite Computing. Why not? After hearing that one for a couple of years, it may be growing on me.

Waiting to install software, or updates is a waste of your time. You’ve got better things to do, like invent, make, improve and distribute. The impact of this and successive technologies to large AEC firms will soon encompass all the things we traditionally do on a PC workstation. If the personal workstation goes away, and the act of starting something new involves add to cart and pressing launch, what would you do with all that extra time? Where would you do it, and with what device? Whenever, wherever. It’s a great time to be a technologist. Terrible time to be a parrot, err I mean PC.

4 comments on “I wish to complain about this PC

  • i’ve been saying for some time now that the traditional architecture practice as we know it, designing and documenting for others to produce, will be a thing of the past very shortly. this only reinforces that trend and makes the shelf-life of the traditional architect even shorter. people get ready…….

  • These technologies will help democratize computing power and access to high-performance tools. What this means for architects is that competition for services will ever increase, and as a result those that can take advantage of shifting their role will see a larger demand for their services.

    The profession can remake it’s own relevance, and will perhaps business models will look different in the coming decades. Designers that also make things are a strong force and will continue to provide value to their clients.

  • I think Autodesk would love for us all to fully embrace the cloud. But I live in Canada, and it’s really big, and I like to design when I’m not anywhere near the internet. So take your cloud and sod it: I’d rather keep my data physically in the room. For the megafirms that love the cloud and need it for interoffice collaboration, have at it. But for me, and many others.

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