Follow Us

We use cookies to provide you with a better experience. If you continue to use this site, we'll assume you're happy with this. Alternatively, click here to find out how to manage these cookies

hide cookie message


The Blue Screen

Maxwell Cooter

What's a computer?

Article comments

"What's a computer?" - sang The Fall's Mark E Smith in Eat Yourself Fitter

"What's a computer?" - sang The Fall's Mark E Smith in Eat Yourself Fitter. At the time, anyone would have dismissed such a question as being rather typical Smith rhetoric but these days it doesn't quite seem so odd.

The question came up after it was reported that baseball team, The New York Yankees had banned iPads from the Yankee Stadium, saying that they contravened the stadium's no laptop policy. Bizarrely, the policy also states that no video cameras can taken in -but phones can be. There's no reason given for such arbitrary policies - but there's a lesson here for all organisations.

Let's not even concern ourselves with the petty regulations about banning laptops - only cricket beats baseball as a game for the statisticians - but look as to how computers are defined. We know an iPad is one (even with its lack of multifunctionality) but my smartphone wouldn't be - and that's even though I can call up as many websites through that as I could with the iPad. Presumably really small netbooks such as the Mbook would be banned but not a smartphone such as the Nokia N97 despite the negligible difference in size. And the video camera ban is puzzling too - given that I can a shoot a perfectly serviceable video on my phone.

I don't want to pick on the New York Yankees - as they're the most disliked club in baseball, there'll be plenty of other people doing that - but to look at how it's hard to define what a device is. We accept that there are limitations to device use: we're happy to turn off equipment when taking off and landing on a plane (although I'm not totally convinced a stray laptop would do that much damage) and we comply with restrictions on taking mobiles into exam rooms - well, mostly. But those are blanket bans on devices: airlines don't try to distinguish between laptops, netbooks and smartphones in the way that organisations like the Yankees do.

Organisations have traditionally operated like the Yankees. Information has been delivered to a particular medium (the desktop PC) and users have been limited in choice. That model is breaking down: people can receive info at the desk, the coffee shop, at home or the train. It could be received by desktop machine, laptop, tablet, netbook or smartphone - all supplied by a different manufacturer. Furthermore: the advent of virtualisation and cloud computing is going to make life more complicated, not less.

The Yankees and others like them who try to distinguish between such devices are pushing against the tide, such differentiation is increasingly becoming meaningless - what's going to be more important is how information is delivered, not the medium being used.

Follow Maxwell on Twitter on @maxcooter


More from Techworld

More relevant IT news


Send to a friend

Email this article to a friend or colleague:

PLEASE NOTE: Your name is used only to let the recipient know who sent the story, and in case of transmission error. Both your name and the recipient's name and address will not be used for any other purpose.

Techworld White Papers

Choose – and Choose Wisely – the Right MSP for Your SMB

End users need a technology partner that provides transparency, enables productivity, delivers...

Download Whitepaper

10 Effective Habits of Indispensable IT Departments

It’s no secret that responsibilities are growing while budgets continue to shrink. Download this...

Download Whitepaper

Gartner Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Information Archiving

Enterprise information archiving is contributing to organisational needs for e-discovery and...

Download Whitepaper

Advancing the state of virtualised backups

Dell Software’s vRanger is a veteran of the virtualisation specific backup market. It was the...

Download Whitepaper

Techworld UK - Technology - Business

Innovation, productivity, agility and profit

Watch this on demand webinar which explores IT innovation, managed print services and business agility.

Techworld Mobile Site

Access Techworld's content on the move

Get the latest news, product reviews and downloads on your mobile device with Techworld's mobile site.

Find out more...

From Wow to How : Making mobile and cloud work for you

On demand Biztech Briefing - Learn how to effectively deliver mobile work styles and cloud services together.

Watch now...

Site Map

* *