Canonical Computer

As long as I’ve used a computer, I’ve had the single instance that I considered as “my computer.” I could have a favorite computer in the library or the one secret computer in the lab that no one else claimed, but I thought of my canonical source of data as the computer sitting on my desk at home. It was where I had everything organized the way I liked it. It had my favorite word processor, the font collection I liked, and all of the Star Trek system alert sounds I could stuff on the hard drive.

There was both comfort and annoyance with the canonical computer. It was comfortable because it closely matched my personality and dysfunctions. It made sense to me. But when I really needed something that wasn’t on my Zip Drive, I was out of luck. Today feels far away from those awkward days of comfort. I have nearly instant access to all of my data from any Internet connected computer. Dropbox, iCloud, and even my NAS provide all of the files I need without ever being at my desk.

But, I’ve achieved only half of the dream. Instead of one canonical computer, I have two or three and not in a good way. I have a Mac that’s configured with my favorite apps, accounts and preferences. I have a phone that’s also configured to suit some of my needs. Throw in a tablet and now we’re really talking a menagerie of convenience.

Somedays I miss carrying around a floppy disk with my files and applications. I’m looking forward to a future when my phone or watch or electronic monocle is my single source for my computing world and everything else is just an empty vessel. I think we’re close. While there’s always room for improvement, today I wrote this on my phone while standing in line for coffee, so things are still pretty great.