Yep, I think this is it. This is where technology will go. One’s computer will be less and less of a data respository and more and more of a data access device. The Blackberry and iPhone are the stalking horses for this revolution. The Web will become the hard disk.
The personal machine is just a way to get to the data and manipulate it. Hard disk capacity will become less important. Web access will become more important. Ways of finding data in the vast library that is on the Web and scattered about so irregularly will become more important.
Teaching people how to use Web-based data to solve problems will become an essential function of education. (It’s basically little more than traditional problem-solving algorithms, but it requires a fundamental understanding of data structures. Although both functions will be hard for pop-psych educators, the latter part will be especially troublesome—it’s so left-brained, logical-sequential, male, Euro-centric!)
This is a variant on the semantic Web that has been discussed extensively by people who know way more than most anyone about directions in technology. Among others, Katherine Adams, Betram Bruce and others forsaw this development. It’s noted in a recent NY Times article. Mashups will abound. The read-write Web will become ever more common. (See my earlier post on this topic, too.)
Please feel free to identify your favorite example in the comments or to provide additional relevant links.