Most current approaches in computer science and applications evolved from the dominant nature of data in early days of computing â€“ the alphanumerical data. Almost all computing technology evolved to deal with this data and has been trying to extend these approaches to increasingly multi-modal dynamic data in dynamic situation. To deal with emerging applications of computing ranging from biology to entertainment, and from security to business, we need to take a fresh look at the tools that we continue to use. A combination of advances in technology, reduction in barriers for interactions among different parts of the world, and quest for solving increasingly difficult problems has created a situation that is unique in its potential to impact the course of human civilization. The last time this happened was when the printing press was invented by Gutenberg. Technology has now evolved to the stage that we can communicate and share experiences using audio, images, video, and other sensors as easily as printing press made it using text. This progress offers a unique opportunity to create, store, access, present, and distribute knowledge and experiences using new media.
Third Disruptive Innovation in Computing
Computing has already gone through two major disruptive evolutionary stages and is on the verge of the third. As important and revolutionary as the first two were, we believe that the third one will result in most long term fundamental changes in the way computing influences human civilization both in its functionality and spread among all demographics of the world.
Data and Computation: The first major event in computing was the invention of the electronic computers. These computers brought ability to process data at an unimaginable speed. It was exciting that computers could perform calculations millions of times faster than humans. Also, the ability to program computers opened avenues for numerous applications that were unimaginable until electronic computers were invented. The focus in this evolutionary phase was initially on performing scientific and engineering computations. Soon the business community and other organizations realized the potential of computing with alphanumeric data. This extended computing to businesses and to large organizations. Early mainframe computers and workstations represented this style of computation. During this phase, computing and computers dealt primarily with data. The terms â€˜computerâ€™ and â€˜computingâ€™ are the legacy of this phase.
Information and Communication: The second major evolutionary stage brought to us personal computers, including the laptops, and the Internet. In this phase, the emphasis shifted from data to information and communication, commonly called Information and Communication Technology (ICT). Initially the rise of PC and with those the popularity of What-You-See-IS â€“What-You-Get word processing and spreadsheet brought computing from well trained computer people to common educated people in the developed world. The ICT revolution was accelerated by the Internet and WWW. By networking computers and creating an environment to connect alphanumeric data sources, including documents, and providing mechanisms to communicate data and information on this global pervasive network, we saw tremendous growth in availability of information and ability to communicate. ICT revolution started unimaginable applications and affected human life in most developed and developing parts of the world.
(Third stage and more tomorrow.)