For me, a netbook really represented a satellite computer, one that would work with a larger computer, that would be easier to carry but would not be left with the burden of the work.
Many viewed the early laptops as just that, satellite computers. As each successive generation of computer became smaller, so did our satellite machines.
Now we enter a period where satellites have the potential to be our primary devices. This arises as the nature of computing is changing. Quite a bit of work has been done to create an environment that these devices interact with, the Internet. At its heart, the very essence of cloud computing is making it easier for the user to do day to day task.
The trouble is, quite a bit of the creativity that defined the Internet is also vanishing as a consequence. Personal web pages have given way to blogs, and the information contained therein has likewise diminished. Social networking sites allow us to share a few hundred characters of information at a time. Concurrent with this is a surge in netbook and tablet sales. Meanwhile, the desktop computer has begun to disappear, relegated more and more to business and various institutional uses.
We live in a time when our phones can do more than our laptops did just a few years ago.
But there appears to be a price to pay for this.
Many have noted that mobile and personal computing have become more consumption and less creation. While there are still many places that allow us to be seen and heard, the focus of many of these newer devices seems to be consumption. This is not a bad thing in and of itself. However, market forces, always working in their cold, methodical way, are shaping our choices for us, and if left unchecked, will continue to erode the ability to create, collaborate and contribute.
Which brings me to my initial point. As I play with my mini netbook, I've discovered that with some simple modifications, it can create content adequately enough to be almost ready to be used on its own; it is its own machine. The satellite becomes a world.
The tools to do this are very basic; really, just a light word processor and a better browser. Software for tasks such as image manipulation can be found, and is perhaps a long way off in its basic, Windows CE, form. However, just the addition of a means to create text and move that up to the Internet is powerful enough.
To that end, I am planning on trying a little experiment. I am considering trying to live off the netbook alone for a few days. Currently, I have not set a date for this, but it will probably run for a period of a few days or a week. If I'm right, it may open doors for those who cannot afford larger, more powerful machines. It may, indeed, put the Internet back into the hands of those who use and depend upon it.
It certainly is worth a try.