How Greg Papadopoulos Spends His Allowance

Part next of the Innovating@Sun video podcast fun is available. This segment was incredible fun to produce, because I had unedited, unscripted time with Jonathan Schwartz and Greg Papadopoulos to talk about how Sun funds R&D, or, quite literally, what Greg gets to do with an allowance of about $2 billion a year.

There are plenty of themes that come out in our little video act, including what it means to be under-served by Moore's Law and why commodities are a good thing if you can make money from them. My two favorite moments, though, came out of what I thought were subtle semantic differences that have a lot of not-so-subtle thought behind them.

Computing versus computers. Computers, computing, compute, what's the difference besides the possible mis-use of a gerund? What pointed me down this track was a Really Big Announcement from 1986, when I worked at Princeton University's Computer Science Department, and the university announced that the building formerly known as the "Computer Center" would become the "Computing Center." I'd like to say that this was the motivation for other minor changes in nomenclature, such as Prince (no relation to town or gown) changing his name to the Artist, but I digress. The point was that the computer center implied it was a big building with a lot of computers in it, and the computing center was the place you went to do computing.

Both are wrong. Computing is where you are (very Buckaroo Banzai, I realize). It's location neutral, building neutral, and in most cases, increasingly device neutral as well. You're computing while sending messages on your cell phone, driving in your car, watching your Tivo-time shifted television, and of course actually sitting in front of a computer. Computing and computers are different things. Computing is about an experience; it's about providing a real-time, high-quality user experience on the network no matter where or when you're computing. Computers -- and more properly, systems of computers, which include software, services, storage, servers, and systems engineering (shameless plug!!) -- are the ingredients. Computing is the result.

The digital divide is about information. Whenever we talk about the "digital divide" as part of Sun's mission and vision, and how we want to bridge that gap, people immediately are drawn to thinking about economic divides. The digital divide is about information haves and have-notes; it's about who can get to the information they need when they need it. Very computing-oriented, and not just a semantic distinction.

Lots more content and discussion in our video.

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Hal Stern's thoughts on software, services, cloud computing, security, privacy, and data management

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