It’s taken time for it to fully dawn on me, but I think I can officially say everything I do is online now. In fact, I can’t do anything on the computer anymore without requiring Internet access. (Gaming doesn’t count – I use a dedicated gaming console, the Wii, for that.) Whenever I am forced to work offline, I always use something that simulates my being online, whether it be Google Gears, or simply a local copy I can later put back online.
I first realized this today when I was listening to my music. It’s quite amazing, really, how connected it all is. I listen to music, rate it, tag it, and all that goes online. Friends are notified via Facebook and my IM status in Pidgin. I could actually listen to my entire library of music from last.fm exclusively now, rather than use Songbird. (Unfortunately, it’s impractical right now, since not all tracks are available on last.fm.)
My dependency is only going to get “worse” as time goes. In fact, my goal is to go fully online! The Pandora (shipping in a month last I heard) is going to allow me to carry my online calendar, contact list, and to-do list everywhere I go, as well as my music and instant messaging.
Trust me, I can see many issues with this. One is security. However, one has to realize that you’re no less secure having your data sit on a server monitored by security professionals than sit on your own computer monitored by yourself. As long as you ensure communications between your location and theirs is secure (HTTPS, for example) then you’re good to go.
The other issue is availability. This one isn’t bad, either, if you cache all your data offline. I already do this: Google Docs contains all my documents, but I use Google Gears to make sure it’s available regardless of our Internet, and every so often export all my documents into a Zipped HTML file for backup just in case. Music is already offline in CD form, and will probably remain that way. (I avoid straight AAC/MP3 purchases.) E-mail is always downloaded via POP. My programming projects are all located on my hard-drive, but also published via svn or bzr. All my data on my computer is backed up in an encrypted form to an off-site server as well, and I could easily duplicate that backup across more than one storage location if I found it necessary. All told, I think my strategy maintains data in case of failure at any point, without becoming inconvenient.
Needless to say, I’m looking forward to more applications giving me the ability to sync with online facilities, or with other computers that I own. Once I do that, the operating systems on my computers will truly become mere platforms for the Internet, as has been predicted a year or more ago.