Thin Revolution

Nick Kloski, Systems Technical Marketing

Last time I talked about toys, and how Sun can—if properly guided—rock the world.  Let's talk about that a bit more, shall we?

I love philanthropism, volunteer for local charities, and would love to work globally on problems that face the world.  When not working on various pressing Sun projects or hanging out in fun locales throughout San Francisco, I really enjoy brainstorming on how Technology can help “bridge the digital divide”.

What I like doing is taking 1) an existing technology and 2) shoe-horning that technology into areas not originally intended. I then try to work out all the nitpicky little details and ponder why no one else has thought of trying that combination before.

Let's try it!  Let's take a technology and a concept and see where it goes:

You will notice that the second link goes to an intentionally purposeful description of what Web 3.0 is.  That's the trouble, no one really knows.  In my own mind, future web technologies that extend beyond what there is today will be defined by one main thing:  increasing seamless integration with one's social life.

In this sense, social does not mean “outside of work,” but more in the sense of Sociology, as in the social layer everyone weaves around themselves while they go about their day.  As an oft quoted ex-CEO of Sun   has said (in varying forms over the years): The future of computing is an increasing trend to technology being ubiquitous.  The web technologies of the future will be so integrated into our lives we will not need to think about patching, software installation, compatibility, costly licensing, or anything else than just getting done what we need to get done.

Let's get back to my example.  How can ubiquitous computing help just one person?  Seems easy to start there.  Seems also easy to map out that one person's technology use per day.  I will submit myself as an example, lest I be charged with creating an entirely made-up scenario just to prove my point.  (Which I would never do...)

  • My day starts off with checking my email from my home desktop while I wake up.

  • Since I often work from places “other” than the office, if I want to get out from the house, I go to a local internet cafe, and check my email on my laptop.

  • Then, off to the office for a little while for a meeting.

  • Then. back home for a bit, then over to visit a friend in San Francisco, maybe going out to dinner, maybe a social event, maybe other fun activities  using my cell phone to find local venues , make calls, and keep up with email.

The SunRay World

I mentioned Sun Ray technology before; now, let's bring it home. If I found a Sun Ray at each of the places I visited throughout the day, I would not need to use any sort of specialized device to do any of the activities above, except for making calls and possibly a portable calendar.

The allure of thin computing is the ability to save your session from one device to another across large geographical distances.  Take your smart card out from your home device, plug it in at work and all of your data comes up, ready to go from where you left off, even in the middle of video streaming!

All on clients that in some cases take up only 5 Watts of power.

I would love to envision a world where thin clients exist everywhere we travel, and wonder if people would call that Web 2.0 or Web 3.0?  

I would love to hear from you how, with all issues aside, you would think “thin computing” would change the world if it became pervasive.  Yes we can use it in targeted call center deployments, or in classrooms in a school, but think larger!....How would the world be changed if these devices were everywhere?  

And better yet, how would you start that thin revolution?




that's the right approach, and yes, still a dream to come true.

I'm going (after my vacation) to build such a low-wattage Solaris based system at home (based on the Intel Atom 330 board) to be used as NAS (NFS + CIFS) as well as VirtualBox (RDP) "server" for the roaming world.

Still, in todays world, it would be good to have a "software Sun Ray", which would allow us to display the session on ANY available device (including, but not limiting it to, iPhone, iPod touch, you name it).


Posted by Matthias Pfützner on September 10, 2008 at 10:46 PM PDT #

Yup, I'd thought about that before too, I also wondered about SunRay docking stations for mobile phones at Coffee Shops/ Airports, if the systems could be somehow interlinked, Phone Companies and ISP's could rent SunRays for home users who could become global roamers ...

Nice to dream isn't it, who knows it may happen one day.

Posted by Peter on September 17, 2008 at 01:59 PM PDT #

How do we begin the revolution? With the next generation of humans. In the homes of families who do not have access to computers.

Funded through State/Fed grants and further subsidized through local partnerships between private donors, corporate sponsorships, PTO organizations, we could provide a SunRay in every home. Broadband service at no charge, paid for by advertising and/or through eRate (no child left behind).

Posted by Joseph Stearns on October 10, 2008 at 11:12 AM PDT #

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