I was thinking about the evolution in computing over the past few years. Computers have been used to make sense of information, find answers, for entertainment and to connect with other people. We used to find someone with perceived expertise in a subject and get advice from them.
Some things change and some things never really change. It turns out it is not really about the evolution of computers so much as it is about the evolution of people using computers.
The 5 Stages of Evolution: People and Computing
We all know someone who is just not computer savvy. Maybe you bought them a computer a few years ago and even with hours of training and support they still struggle with the basics. Everything is still according to the installation defaults and they have no idea where any documents they create are except "on the computer".
People who have discovered the Internet including e-mail web browsing. Now you can find tons of information about everything; but interestingly, few real answers.
People using computers to run businesses. End-users don't have to worry about where data is anymore and rely on their Information Technology (IT) folks for that. The IT folks are overwhelmed trying to make it all work and worrying about where all the data is.
The processing and data are "out there" somewhere. Even the corporate IT folks no longer really know (or care) where the data is. Essentially, part of the corporate computing just got outsourced. Of course if you are building the application that is "out there" somewhere or have to integrate with it; it is another ball game entirely.
This is all the social media and user created content. We have access to too much information and we are now relying on perceived experts for advice. Friends, bloggers and product reviewers have gained quite a bit of influence over what products and services get purchased. Obviously it is just like the offline world, you trust the opinions of "authoritative" sources and friends over strangers. It is just easier this in an increasingly complicated world.
So things really are not different; people still do things the way they have for thousands of years. They just now have more tools and can reach around the world for information, answers, connecting and entertainment.