What Is Personal Computing?

A few months ago Apple announced their newest iPad Pros and that has re-ignited the ongoing debate about whether the iPad is a real computer or whether the iPad can be ones only computer.

In my opinion these debates ask the wrong question. I think the starting point is the question, what is personal computing? Most tend to still equate personal computing with a device or devices, making personal computing about numbers rather than about what one does.

>Question: Is the Amazon Echo and the Google Home a computer and/or does it provide access to a computer? What is the impact of ambient computing to this debate?

When the conversation moves from devices to functions, I think you end up with data and output, or deliverables. The questions become, how do I store, access, and change my data and produce the deliverables I need?

>Think of deliverables in the broadest sense. For example, an answer to the question, "what is the current temperature?" is a deliverable as is a map with navigation directions as is a Microsoft Word document.

I think these questions are driven by the new reality that most people do not use only one computer. For example, one may carry a smartphone, which is a computer, everywhere, and have a desktop or notebook computer they use at home or in the office. If one is a knowledge worker they might use one computer at work and another computer at home. Some also have a tablet, which in this case is a third computer.

My point is that real personal computing today is multi-platform or platform agnostic. I want to interact with my data using my smartphone, tablet, and whatever desktop or notebook computer I happen to have access to. I might wish to produce a deliverable from any one of these computers, but realize that some deliverables are more easily produced using a specific type of computer.

Bottom line is that for me, it doesn't really matter whether my iPad Pro 10.5 is a personal computer (it is) or whether it can be my only computer (I can make it be) because I, like most, have access to multiple computers. The real question then is, can I access my data from any of these computers?