Beyond gadgetry lies the real technology

This morning’s Observer column.

Cloud computing is a good illustration of why much media commentary about – and public perceptions of – information technology tends to miss the point. By focusing on tangible things – smartphones, tablets, Google Glass, embedded sensors, wearable devices, social networking services, and so on – it portrays technology as gadgetry, much as earlier generations misrepresented (and misunderstood) the significance of solid state electronics by calling portable radios “transistors”.

What matters, in other words, is not the gadget but the underlying technology that makes it possible. Cloud computing is what turns the tablet and the smartphone into viable devices.