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The next, next big thing (oreilly.com)
37 points by Garbage on May 21, 2011 | hide | past | web | favorite | 4 comments

I'm willing to believe hardware will be a big thing again soon: the transition of 3d printers and scanners from industry to hobbiest suggests there's room for even broader consumerization. Cory Doctorow's Makers is a compelling vision of that future.

It doesn't need to be a question of thick xor thin client. We've tried the thick client (and we're trying it again with the rise of AWS). We've tried the thin client (and we're trying it again with the rise of Chromium). It's almost like our technological adventures are a virtual Edison: "I didn't fail, I found ten thousand things that wouldn't work". I think the next, next big thing will not do away with the web, or the thick client, or the thin client, or big data, but represent a fusion of our understanding of all of these things.

I fully agree, and I'd like to add that this kind of fusion is already happening all over the place, blurring the line between what we used to call "thin" and "thick" clients.

For instance, a browser running huge amounts of JavaScript (e.g. ExtJS and stuff) can't really be called "thin" client anymore. On the other hand, a slick native app that does little more than presenting nicely some weather data can't really be called a "thick" client. Also, a huge "native" Java application that depends on the web and has auto-upgrade mechanisms is in many aspects very similar to huge JavaScript applications that are cached by the Browser.

Any application that needs to share data with other instances will need some server and some client part. The only question is where to put which part of the application.

Is the client merely a displaying tool like VNC? Or does the client actually run application code, and the server is just some kind of database? Which parts of the data is processed server-side and which client side? Or, is the server part decentralized and the clients communicate via P2P?

Maybe the application is even a combination of all those strategies, using in each corner of the application the most appropriate strategy.

Given all those possibilities and the wide range of succesful strategies that can be observed in the wild, drawing a sharp line between "thin" or "thick" client is already impossible today.

the next next big thing will be computation being so ubiquitous and interconnected that no one except developers even thinks about where the juice for any given activity is coming from.

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