The more I think about it, the less I would need to have a beefed up computer these days as long as I used the resources on the Internet for most of my work. For me, the exception to this would be Photoshop CS3 which I use frequently, but even that could be dispensed with in a pinch.
Already I use Google Docs & Spreadsheets to store my text files and spreadsheets. I update them online, or squirt them up from one of my tiny electronic writing devices. I keep a cardio exercise log there that I update and use to fill out for the sheets I hand in at class for my cardio rehab program.
Blog entries, such as this one, are written directly into WordPress from the keyboard. The online editor is fine for this kind of writing and it offers interactive spell check to help me catch typos and misspelled words.
Most of my good photos go up on Flickr, which now offers an online photo editor for making corrections to colour, sharpness, contrast, sizing. A casual hobbyist could take shots with a digicam, look at them on the LCD, and select the best ones to load up to Flickr, fixing them up once they’re online.
With this in mind, those sub-compact notebook computers, or Internet devices if you prefer, such as the Asus eeePC, could be all the computer you’d need. It runs a variant of Linux that is invisible to the casual user. It offers wireless connectivity and a few basic programs, including a browser.
I’m even tempted to say you could almost do without owning a computer at all. Just book time on an Internet computer at the local library or rent some connection time at an Internet café. Talk about travelling light!
Of course, most of us would be unable to live without checking email several times a day or, if you use IRC or IM, being in constant contact with friends.
But a time is coming, and it could be soon, when the only computing device you might need is an iPhone-like cellular phone with embedded camera, MP3 and video player, browser, and an accessory Blue-Tooth folding keyboard to use for any serious typing.
Forget hard-disk failures and nasty Microsoft upgrades. Soon we’ll be nomadic, Internet-centric computerists doing our hunting and gathering via wireless hotspots.