The Three "C's" of Computing
Nov 13, 1995 ::
Remember the three R's? Reading, writing and arithmetic? Do they send chills up your spine? The three R's are a simple way to describe primary and secondary education...of course, I'm not really sure where Home Ec fits in there...
Well, just as there are three R's of education, there are three "C's of computing. As with the three R's, the three C's are a simple way to think about where computing has been, where it is now, and where it's going. They are: Creating, Consuming and Connecting.
In the beginning, there was BASIC. Then came 1-2-3. Then WP, DBase, Word, Excel, etc. And then the Suite. Most of the PC's history has been as a CREATION tool. The primary users of PC's have been the people who write documents, create budgets, give presentations, build and use databases. The logical extension of the PC as creation tool is the application "development environments" I wrote about last week.
This is the next major shift, and it's happening very, very quickly. As companies like Microsoft move into the home market, they're discovering that the primary use of the PC in the home will not be creation, but rather consumption. Consumption of all sorts of information: encyclopedias, stock quotes, bank balances, games, shopping, etc., etc., etc. Why do you think they're investing so heavily in MSN?
The third C is perhaps the most important of them all. Connecting. Email is just a start. Discussion groups (usenet, etc.) go a bit further. Groupware a bit further yet. But I think we're just seeing the beginning. There's a reason that email and discussion groups are the most popular applications on the Internet, AOL, Compuserve, Prodigy, etc. The content makers may make money from consumption of information, but the users out there care about connecting.
The collective dream of internet types, of course, is the medium's ability to combine all three C's into one, glorious future: creating, consuming and connecting all at once. The Web is just the beginning: with Netscape Navigator Gold, we'll be able to create, consume and connect, all from one piece of software. It's apps like this that make the dream of 500-channels of cable TV seem so stale...
Other pieces about client-side software: