Information Work Online Experiment
30 March 2008 1 Comment
The Asus Eee PC and the XO are two examples of ultralight, low-cost laptops that in their initial versions use one of the many variants of the Linux operating system. The price of the Eee PC 701 with a 4 GB SSD made a purchase for me inescapable. From the outset I have been very impressed despite the 7 inch screen (the first machine I bought in 1981, the Osbourne 1, had a 5 inch screen) and tiny keys. I have embarked on an experiment to determine whether I could carry out all or most of my day-to-day work using the Eee and its standard software complement. Primarily for my own benefit I call this my Information Work Online Experiment (InfoWOE). With only about 1.5 GB of space available for user data on the 4 GB SSD it seemed to me that by necessity the Eee must access my document corpus online. Thus an Internet connection, either wireless or wired, for the Eee is assumed.
I have been a Unix user for 20 years from 1980, a Mac fanatic for 10 years from its introduction in 1984, and a dedicated Windows proponent from 1995. Using Linux brings me back to the beginning after almost 30 years. However I have no intention of taking time to learn the more than adequate document manipulation software available on the Eee for file management, word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, audio and video media, and so on. This software will be necessary for reading certain documents formats with the occasional minor edit.
Instead I will focus my efforts totally towards online data manipulation and collaboration. This essentially means living and working in the Firefox browser and its extensive add-on ecosystem. The bulk of the information processing should occur on a whole collection of web sites providing a wide range of services. InfoWOE essentially involves working ‘in the cloud’ and using the Eee as a thin Internet client device. Of course any regular laptop or desktop connected to the Internet running Windows, Mac OS or Linux can also be used in the same way. Thus it will be possible to interact with InfoWOE from my several other machines.
For the moment, rather than having a dedicated InfoWOE web site I will publish my experience and findings via this blog. As I did for reporting from the BlogOz conference I will publish InfoWOE postings as a blogknot, ie a linked series of blog entries. The blogknot links appear at the head of each related post. [Update 13 April 2008: As all programmers know updating a doubly-linked list is tedious and error-prone. I have now settled for a WordPress feature link that dynamically generates a reverse list of all blog posts in this category. A link to this post collection will appear at the head of all related blog posts.]