On not getting too entangled with the Web

June 5, 2007, 3:29 PM UTC
Fortune

new-image.jpgJohn Markoff in today’s NY Times relates how Apple (AAPL) and Microsoft (MSFT) are getting together to make sure that the next time they both introduce operating systems they are “relevant in an increasingly Web-centered world.”

I find this vaguely threatening. Not the part about the two behemoths dancing, I’m way over that. Anybody who worries about consolidation at this point is missing the boat. Every industry – advertising, media, transportation, music, fast food – is agglutinizing, finding operating synergies and economies of scale and blah de blah blah and so forth. Those who do not work on this sized canvas must now swallow their own tongues and die.

No, I’m more concerned about another trend that I’d like to stop right now. I hasten to add that I’ve been incredibly unsuccessful in the past about this. Back in the late 1980s, I tried to stop the fax machine, which I felt would destroy procrastination as we then knew it. And so it did. Later, I foresaw the danger of ubiquitous accessibility represented by e-mail, cell phones and, of course, the BlackBerry. All in vain. The earth turns. Fish gotta swim. Birds gotta fly. Man gotta be reachable on the beach in Costa Alegre.

But now what they’re talking about is taking all our operating systems, all our applications and all our data and putting it up on some motherlode hard drive somewhere. Our tools and work product will then be wirelessly downloaded to us from Mother wherever we are. No more Windows. No more OS X. Just little mini-applications that do what we want to do. No more big hard drives on our desktops and laptops. All storage can be done with Mother. No more iPods, because all existing music will be located somewhere in Mother’s capacious bosom and streamed to us from the nipple of the Web.

As Mr. Horse used to say in Ren and Stimpy, “No sir. I don’t like it.”

I like Word. It’s a good program. It’s been nice to me. It’s got a lot of functions, a lot of fonts and I’m as loyal to it as I am to American automobiles.

I like Photoshop. In fact, I like all those big, fat, monolithic digital photography programs that help me edit my pictures. I also like to save my pix in really big files, so they print well. Mother hates really big files. She wants things neat and transmittable over the ether. Not everything should be itty-bitty and easily downloadable!

I don’t want my storage to be elsewhere. I want it here, in my home, and no place else. Last time I looked, part of being a grown-up is not having to ask Mommy every time I want a byte. Empowerment! That’s the ticket.

And you know what? I like OS X, whether it’s Tiger, or Leopard, or Budgerigar. It’s a calm, unified place to go, where everything works as it’s supposed to and nothing ever crashes in my face. I don’t want a collection of convenient little mini-bots. In fact, if I never see another bot it will be too soon for me.

I am me. I am I. I am not going to go quietly into the vast, seductive digital collective mindspace that awaits. How about you?