The Data Is The Computer

I know there is a ton more I could post about Apple’s announcements coming out of WWDC. But I think while all of the details and features of iCloud, iOS 5, and Mac OS X Lion are interesting, there is an idea that these technologies surround and support that is far more so. In fact, it could be perhaps the most fundamental shift in the idea of what a computer is in many years.

The idea is this: Your data is the computer.

This is the new world that Apple is creating. Where your data resides, the device you use to access it, how it is saved, where it is saved, how to manipulate it, how to back it up, how to recover if you make changes to it that you did not intend, all will be things you don’t have to think about.

Your data will be available to you on any device you own. It will be left exactly as you last left it. You can open it in any application that it is able to open it. Should your computer crash, do not fear, your data is safe. And when you get a new machine, simply log into it and all of your data will be there in short order. Buy a new Mac, a new iPhone, and new iPad, simply log in and the data will be there too.

When the device does not matter, when it’s always as you left it, if it opens where you need it, and it is always backed up, we can concentrate on making, creating, doing, being.

Also, I think this is the fundamental difference between how Apple is approaching this idea and Google is doing so. To Google, as to John Gage ten years ago, the network is still the computer. To Apple, your data is. And this difference will define an era.

In fact, Steve Jobs hinted at this idea when he said during the keynote, “Some people think the cloud is just a big disk in the sky… We think it’s way more than that.”

It is not until I start thinking about these things that I realize that we are on the cusp of a shift in computing that is among the largest I may see in this lifetime.