Time to time I wonder (probably as many other people) what the technology and the network brought to our lives and how the "personal" computers evolved (sometimes from personal enemies ;-) ) to real personal computers. We have two personal computers at home and it does not matter too much which one me or my wife uses. So, the interesting question is what is the real meaning of personal computer today?
A few years ago this question was very easy to answer -- personal computer was just "my computer" at work or at home.
The answer today is more difficult -- the situation changed (and it is still changing). So, lets ask this question differently -- what is really personal about a computer? For many people it is not typically just the computer itself but the data we create and use. The data can be classified from many points of view but from the "personal" point of view I believe that there are only two major types of data. Data we actively create and work with and data we just passively consume (and sometimes collect).
What are the data we create -- various documents -- yes, of course -- but the majority of our data represent e-mails and probably pictures (digital camera rules ;-) ). Now comes another interesting question -- where do we tend to store these personal data today? Well, more and more often it is somewhere on a network. Many people use for web-based email for personal purpuses. People typically post their pictures at specialized servers (like flickr), blogs, home pages, etc. Why do we this? Well because of two reasons -- the network provides higher flexibility and makes possible to easy share our data with others.
So, what does it mean "personal computer" these days then? Today personal computer is more about an identity and data related to this identity. The personal computer itself is just a gateway to our data.