Waraku Education

Ideas, experiments and observations as they occur [and I have time] relating to teaching and learning in a secondary school - special focus on ICT.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Is the FOSS debate null and void?

George Siemens posted "Is the IT department Dead?". He pointed to a review of a book written by Nicholas Carr titled The Big Switch: Rewiring the World from Edison to Google.

I am interested in this from three perspectives.
How this thinking impacts on
  1. ICT in schools
  2. IT as a subject of study
  3. skills and careers in my community
Some comments from the review

"The IT department is dead, and it is a shift to utility computing that will kill this corporate career path."

Carr's rationale is that utility computing companies will replace corporate IT departments much as electric utilities replaced company-run power plants in the early 1900s.

Carr explains that factory owners originally operated their own power plants. But as electric utilities became more reliable and offered better economies of scale, companies stopped running their own electric generators and instead outsourced that critical function to electric utilities.

I reckon that Carr has a point and that this thinking has implications for the skills debate we have going at the moment.
He says even IT professionals are indistinguishable from one company to the next. "Most perform routine maintenance chores — exactly the same tasks that their counterparts in other companies carry out," he says.
Maybe the job of IT professional has become just plain dull?
Carr offers a grimmer future for IT professionals. He envisions a utility computing era where "managing an entire corporate computing operation would require just one person sitting at a PC and issuing simple commands over the Internet to a distant utility."
The nature of software programming is evolving and morphing. We are currently lamenting the shortage of high level ICT skills but the future need for these skills does not seem to be there. The number of people involved does not seem to be a need in the future. The smarts will be few and involved in managing these large utilities it seems.
He not only refers to the demise of the PC, which he says will be a museum piece in 20 years, but to the demise of the software programmer, whose time has come to an end.

If nothing else, this supports my previous posts "The return to mainframes and terminals" and "Google releasing package for office". The PC will be dead and the terminals will be very portable. This also points to the importance of having and developing sound connectivity infrastructure.

In some ways it makes the FOSS debate in schools null and void. Certainly Linux OS with Firefox because they are free and provide that terminal like apparatus needed to access the online services. So where is the need for other productivity software like Open Office, GIMP, Inkscape, Thunderbird, etc when the technology is emerging for us to just do it online?

To me this also confirms my opinion that MS Vista is a non-event. What are these buggers thinking over there in lala Redmond land?

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