In the phase of the aeroplane

In his contribution for Encyclopédie Française World Brain: The Idea of a Permanent World Encyclopedia, H.G. Wells states: “Our contemporary encyclopaedias are still in the coach-and-horses phase of development, rather than in the phase of the automobile and the aeroplane.” This text was written in 1937 and is compared with Vannevar Bush’s “As We May Think” due to its influence on the bright minds working on information storage, retrieval and processing optimization, augmentation and hypertext.

Computer-Aeroplane/Airplane analogies were never common. There are cars to make comparisons from the everyday life of computer users and rockets if it comes to futuristic visions and ultimate capacities.

There was a funny episode early this year though. Donald Norman, author of billions of analogies, compared web services provided by 37 signals with Southwest Airlines’ business model. Actually he didn’t compare but opposed. Because of some strange reason he argued that a budget airline providing reduced services is a good thing and meets customers’ needs and a web service that “keeps it simple” displays arrogance towards its users.

Probably, if Norman would have been in a better mood that day, or wouldn’t dislike simplicity that much, he’d redirect that metaphor to support 37 signals’ model. That’s what Basecamp authors said as well in their why-we-disagree-with-don-norman post.

appengine_lowres.jpg Google’s App Engine Logo contributed to the airplane analogies with a toy plane. In fact it’s not a plane, but an engine with wings and tail. A cutie. Reminds a merchandise toy kids get during a flight.

Civil air transport is not a source of inspiration for people thinking about computers. Once a symbol for progress and futuristic ideas, today airplanes are mostly appear as a background for mobile technologies ads.


However, now, when Web2.0 hype is giving place to the Cloud, airplanes got their second chance.

Watch the video below: IT trendmakers and trendy IT people are answering the very actual question “What is Cloud Computing?”

On the 6th minute (5:05) Bubblicious’ representative states: “[Cloud computing is] me on the airplane with my notebook, 30 000 feet, working in a cloud”.

More on the Cloud coming soon.

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