Monday, 17 October 2011

The Briefcase in the Hall

It's standing next to the pew, by my front door. It's a black leather briefcase my wife bought me in 1993 or 1994 when I started Armadillo Systems. "There" she said, "now you're a businessman".

I haven't used it for years, so it's going to the charity shop. In its day I used to carry vast folders of paper around. Printouts of letters, contracts, checklists and sketches. It's day has passed.

It was in 2005 when I was spending a lot of time with Microsoft in Seattle that I realised paper had died. In meetings, 10 or 15 people lined up either side of a long table would open their laptops almost in unison, tappeting away throughout the meeting, every comment and thought filed away ready for copying and pasting, ready to later justify or judge. Times had changed.

Then the other week I was in another meeting. This time in a coffee shop. All three of us pulled out iPads and silently stabbed at our on-screen keyboards. Times had changed again. No formal meeting rooms and no formal filing system. Coffee and the cloud rather than formality and folders.

Over the last weekend, Apple sold 4m new iPhones with their latest voice recognition system, Siri. Make no mistake, this is the beginning of another big shift, this time not from paper to keyboards, but from keyboards to voice.

This won't define the future of how we relate to computers, but it will surely point the way.

No comments: