Sunday, May 18, 2008

Grokking in the Tech World

I was laying in bed unable to fall asleep with my mind racing last evening and coming up with brilliant thoughts as I sometimes do and then started remembering back to the days when I was Nature Director for a CYO camp about 30 years ago. It was probably one of the best jobs I ever had. Just out of high school, they game me room and board and a whopping $80 a week salary.

I in return during the school year taught Nature at day camp and during the summer at regular camp. At day camp we would get children that would come in from the inner city, the sidewalk jungle if you will, whom had never even seen a tree in their entire lives. Now yeah they SAW trees, but they never really looked at them. So they really hadn't seen them.

Back then I introduced these children to the idea of Grokking in nature. The scientific definition of Grok from Wikipedia is to share the same reality or line of thinking with another physical or conceptual entity. In Heinlein's view of quantum theory, grokking is the intermingling of intelligence that necessarily affects both the observer and the observed. In simple terms at least to me Grokking means to study and experience an object(or idea) and take it apart piece by piece until you have whittled it down to looking at its most infinitesimal parts.

The experience I gave the children started with hugging trees and looking at them deeply and finished with us Grokking an Orange. If you ever looked at an Orange, I mean really looked at it, you would notice that it is always very cool to the touch, the bumps on the outside are intriguing, inside it is broken into sections, and if you dig deeper into those sections you will see that the Orange has little tiny juice sacks all tide together to give you that tasty goodness when you bite into it.

So I'm laying in bed and I'm thinking... and I'm remembering and I'm thinking and then it comes to me.. what is happening right now in the Computer Industry and Tech world can be compared to Grokking. We are slowly tearing apart how we see things and separating and even virtualizing our applications, layers, networks, OS pieces like profiles, files, music and much more. A quote by Bill Gates came into my head:

“Today, you always know whether you are on the Internet or on your PC’s hard drive. Tomorrow, you will not care and may not even know.”

And this is happening before our eyes, things like Microsoft Live and Live Mesh and Google Apps are good examples. OS Virtualization and virtual desktops and virtual layers in routers and virtual apps by a plethora of companies are here or on the horizon. In the not so distant future we will be able to pick and choose what we want our OS, software, computers, handheld devices and media to behave like and be at any given time. Do I want a Linux box one minute and a Windows or Mac box the next, instantly switching between them? The technology exists. Do I want my smart phone to be able to connect and run applications from my desktop be it a mac, Linux or windows box while it displays a virtual screen and keyboard on the surface in front of me. You bet I do. Do I want to have multiple IP addresses assigned to me virtually depending on how I log on so I easily connect to different subnets and networks. Your darn right I do.

Everyone speaks about "convergence" but maybe it is not really about that anymore, just maybe it is about "Grokking" and separating all the pieces to make our lives easier to "share the same reality."

1 comment:

dave porter said...

Next time Neil Young is on the radio you might catch me singing, 'Keep on grokking in the tech world.'