What is Mobile Computing?
I am scheduled to give or participate in a number of talks and panels that focus on Mobile Computing in the coming year. And I think each engagement will focus on a different aspect of what Mobile Computing is.
So what is Mobile Computing?
Wikipedia’s definition: Mobile computing is a generic term describing one’s ability to use technology while moving, as opposed to portable computers, which are only practical for use while deployed in a stationary configuration.
It looks like part of the confusion should be blamed on the technology advances attributed to these mobile devices. So I started to work back through my “mobile computing” background and I think for me it began with the HP 11C programmable calculator. My 20-year-old 11C still has a little Contributor engraved plaque on it in recognition from HP for a little Chem Lab program I wrote for it. Then I think about the first truly portable HP110 and then that luggable Toshiba 3200 that I believe is somewhat responsible for my back problems. And then I walk that path of other laptops (Toshiba, Sony, Dell, IBM), the Palm Pilot generation, great years with the Blackberry, flirtation with HP’s iPAQ and now the nirvana of the iPhone. I think we may finally be able to designate Mobile Computing as the “use of technology while moving”. So I do not believe we can attribute “Mobile Computing” to a device but rather we better keep the focus on the ability to move.
I believe that I would label our students who seem to have and use their MacBooks everywhere as Mobile Computers. I do think that larger Touch Screen devices will replace those MacBooks so I think the discussion of Mobile Computing truly shifts to communication. Communication as in using that mobile device to collaborate by voice, text, chat, email, forum, blog, wiki, social nets, through Cloud collaboration suites. So the real key is the dependability or assumption that you can participate in these activities anytime anywhere. In some respects it replaces traditional computing, but that is the point. “Computing” is the confusing term. Maybe we define computing as leaning toward the input of information and when “Mobile” is prefixed we lean toward output of information driven by real-time communication.