Just the other day a colleague asked, “Any new trends in the hardware/software area?” I thought about it for a minute, but just couldn’t get over the phrasing. Hardware? Software? Are they still calling it that these days? Is this a generational thing?
He was born circa the 50s, I was born in the 70s (admittedly, age probably has very little or nothing whatsoever to do with this). Nonetheless, I’m not a millennial, but I am old enough for “hardware/software” to sound very familiar but young enough to have it grate on my ears just slightly. Hardware. Software. Why does that sound wrong?
I began to do what any writer might: I jotted down some thoughts:
device >> platform >> content
“Hardware/software” seems as though it might be a 1980s mindset that includes those big old IBM PCs, the “PC junior”, the old Apple IIs, those large black floppy disks and the smaller harder usually black, blue or gray ‘floppy’ disks. Also: glowing green-lettered screen mainframe machines (hardware) at hospitals and companies, with noisy dot-matrix printers. It was “hardware” because it took two people to move it, and was (much like a television) a piece of furniture—and you could wrap your knuckles against it and it was, well, hard. Software often came in a box or packet with a paperback manual, the early disks were actually floppy (flexible) or soft, and you stuck them into the machine.
“Device, platform, content” is more post-2000, phrasing from this last decade:
1. a DEVICE is anything from a laptop, blackberry, iPhone, android, iPad to a PC, gameplayer, xbox, etc.
2. The PLATFORM would be Facebook, Blackboard, twitter, edmodo, Google and any website you visit and use, on any device.
3. The CONTENT: articles, courses, games, words, messages, photos, videos, stuff you
read, stuff you share, the “stuff” that is on the platform.
The content is on the platform. The platform is on the device. The device is in your hand.
Content. Platform. Device.
Device. Platform. Content.
There are device manufacturers (Dell, Apple, etc).
There are platform creators (Blackboard, Facebook, twitter, etc).
There are content providers (writers, news organizations, game developers, analysts, movie producers, curriculum writers, artists, marketers)
Sometimes a company does all three, or two. Other times, they just do one of the above.
Apps (applications) are a whole type of platform unto themselves that provide specific content or they provide tools that address specific types of content.
Phew! Anyway, I thought about it and realized that from 1980s IBM days up through to post-2000 Google, Facebook and Social Media days of today, there has been a bit of a shift in the way we consider technology. Possibly, just possibly, this little essay might help you in thinking about technology in schools, technology in business, technology in your life.
Any additional thoughts? Am I way off base here? Is there a model I am not aware of? Am I missing something? Do you agree? Does anyone care?