Speaking of Neo-Luddism and resistance to technological change, consider this article from a couple days ago in The Chronicle of Higher Education’s Wired Campus blog. Here’s an excerpt:
North Carolina State University is one of a handful of colleges to set up virtual computer labs, where users enter it remotely, from their own computers in dormitory rooms or libraries. So if they need to use a 3-D modeling program for an engineering course, they can log into the virtual lab (a bank of servers in some room they’ll never see) from their laptop and use the program without even coming to campus. A free article in this week’s Chronicle outlines the university’s model, which is being emulated at other colleges.
Correct me if I’m mistaken, but isn’t what they are describing the way it used to be, lo these many years? Back before my time, when you connected to the mainframe from a dumb terminal and used the Large Box to conduct your work? Back in the days of the BOFH and root and while (1) fork();, when the jargon that fills the Jargon File was being coined?
Perhaps this is a good idea, of course – NCSU’s administrators seem to think so, and from personal experience expanding the capacity of any computer lab is a tremendous boon to students and faculty. Looks like what’s old is new again. It is not really a new idea – many things run remotely now. Consider any of the golden child social networking apps: where once social networking was based on chatrooms using AIM or IRC, it’s now a remotely hosted system that provides extensive interconnection, with no local overhead beyond that of a web browser.
I’m still amused, of course. Such things amuse me.