Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Big changes afoot for Rupert's diary, and that's not the half of it

It's been more than ten years since I wrote my first diary entry for ZDNet UK. At the time, the site was hosted as an offshoot of ZDNet.com, which has, like us, seen astonishing changes on and off the web. When the diary started, Google was Alta Vista, Wikipedia was a ripped-off copy of Encarta in a 4x CD-ROM, and broadband was a 28.8kbps V.34 modem. Wireless was still a term used more for the Goon Show than networking — 802.11 had yet to be born.

We move on, and so must the diary. The final entry has yet to be written — but this is the last one in this form. The original idea of writing up daily events online from a personal view has proved durable and popular; in 1997, someone even came up with a name for the general principle. Now it's got to the point where even sales and marketing have heard about it. And so, inevitably, the diary is becoming a blog.

There'll still be a weekly round-up, as well as a separate blog for all the stuff that is too whimsical, off-centre or just plain pointless to get into the diary proper. The rest of the ZDNet UK team — and, increasingly, voices from elsewhere in the industry — will also have their own areas. As can you: don't think you're getting off lightly. ZDNet wants you.

However, much hasn't changed. Microsoft continues to be found guilty of abuses of power while acting surprised and hurt that anyone could think such a thing — and rolls out operating systems late and with half the features missing. Steve Jobs still has his reality distortion field, this time persuading his army of fanbois that if you slap an Apple logo on a bog-standard Intel laptop you're getting real magic. Apple fanbois still write in by the hundred in response to things like that last sentence.

Here are some predictions for the next ten years. Microsoft will produce a free thin version of Windows — Thindows — for the home, with a £4.99 per month subscription model for online services and software. Apple will run out of ideas: Google will not. There will be two or three high-profile startups based on thin-client open source enterprise computing using information appliances; one of these may become a billion dollar outfit in record time.

Most of the action will be at the convergence of smart storage and networking, with increasing amounts of intelligence that knows about finding patterns in data and the most efficient ways to load information from multiple sources. Anyone who's used BitTorrent will know how it does things that nothing else can match: go to Oracle and ask for a database that can deliver gigabyte images from an exabyte store at 10Mbps. That's the sort of performance BitTorrent users get with a thirty quid a month cable connection, a three hundred quid PC and free software. Now, imagine those ideas in the days to come, when we've got 100-core processors running at a teraflop and gigabit global networking. We've barely started.

But there'll still be room, I hope, to write about the silliness and splendour of the human side of the IT industry, of important people doing daft things and daft people doing important things. Even as the global information machine mumbles in its sleep and stirs on the verge of awareness, there'll be a pub in Soho where a PR says something off-message to a hack not quite drunk enough to miss it. Until the day that happens, the diary will live — whatever it's called.

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