Honoring Computings Dead

Ever since the birth of the modern-day internet, we've chronicled an endless parade of death. The death of the PC.

Ever since the birth of the modern-day internet, weve chronicled an endless parade of death. The death of the PC. The death of client/server computing. The death of software (as we know it). The death of the music industry.

The latest death caused by the Web I heard is the death of auctions: "Auctions are dead. Internet-based negotiations are alive." So says Sarah Pfaff, executive vice president of eBreviate, an EDS subsidiary making e-procurement noise.

Fair enough. Auctions as we know them on eBay are not capable of supporting the needs of corporations that want to participate in dynamic bidding processes. And antiquated procurement processes wont stand up to the rigors of e-business. Corporations need the power of managing multiple auctions at once, each with multiple bidders, and analyze them in real time. With emerging services being offered by eBreviate, as well as FairMarket and Moai, theres now an answer to corporations that want to really take control of their procurement operations.

But lets not be hasty about the death of anything. There actually is no death in computing; like literary theory or philosophy, its all just a reworking of what came before. We know the PC still isnt in fact dead, and the handhelds that are replacing workstation functions are still being bottle-fed and have to have their diapers changed five times a day. Client/server? That old veteran is still around, but modified to fit its surroundings. Software? Packaged software should go away, but software runs the world, and as such must adapt to its environment just as client/server did.

We are too quick to usher out the old and anoint the new in this era. Look at the analogies in the sporting world. There is no next Vince Lombardi, just a succession of followers trying to build on his legacy. As we look toward the "real" 21st century in a few weeks, lets not forget the foundations upon which our computing ecosystem was built.

Scot Petersen

Scot Petersen

Scot Petersen is a technology analyst at Ziff Brothers Investments, a private investment firm. Prior to joining Ziff Brothers, Scot was the editorial director, Business Applications & Architecture,...