Here are some gift ideas for the technology friends and family in our lives. Some are cheap and some cost a fortune. Some are just fantasies; some are more than possible. You be the judge.
10. I’d like to give Larry Ellison another appearance on Oprah to reprise his “network computer” sales pitch – the one that fell flat way back when but one that would fly today. We all know that it’s only a matter of time when thin clients rule.
9. I’d like to give the open source crowd some tranquilizers; they need to relax a little. They’re making slow but steady progress – and influencing the field philosophically and technically: you’re doing fine; just remain calm and everything will work out probably better than you think.
8. How about suicide pills for spammers? What if you were a spammer and you were on your deathbed. What would you tell your grandchildren you did for a living? (The question also applies to telemarketers, those who have dedicate their lives to next generation pop-up ad technology, and hackers.)
7. I’d like to make voice response units actually work – since they don’t today. Can Santa help us all understand each other? I hate these things – and the incomplete, inconsistent and unreliable technology that enables them. When will voice recognition and response actually understand what we say and what we mean?
6. How about another life for artificial intelligence (AI)? I know, I know, it already used up at least nine, but there’s still so much automated work to do. I am not happy about the “rules engine” crowd usurping the AI mission and mantra: rules servers, adaptive network behavior and self-healing software are all AI applications. Let’s give the AI geeks of the 20th century another chance to re-group, re-package and re-sell their wares.
5. We all need to stop disrespecting project managers. They’re only trying to do things right. I know they can be annoying, but they have mothers too. Let’s re-dedicate ourselves to processes, schedules, documentation and minutia.
4. I’d like to give CIOs and CTOs everywhere the ability to hypnotize their CEOs and CFOs to instantly turn them into strategic business technology investors. Wouldn’t it be fun to watch CFOs everywhere ask why the technology budget was so small?
3. How about anti-virus vaccines for the masses? Since the pharmaceutical companies won’t make enough flu vaccine for us how about they if focus their attention on digital viruses. If we convince them that there’s a profit here they’re sure to manufacture what we need. Flu? What flu? I need digital protection. Save the biological stuff for the geeks.
2. Everyone who directly or indirectly participated in the reduction or in some cases elimination of basic research in computer and information science in the National Science Foundation and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency should be given government-funded brain transplants.
And the number #1 gift for the holidays?
1. $100 computers for everyone. The One Laptop per Child initiative launched by Nicholas Negroponte of MIT Media Lab fame is not fantasy and is about as important as a technology initiative can be (http://laptop.media.mit.edu/). Wouldn’t it be amazing if the digital divide really disappeared?