The following are some things from my roommate, Erick, on computers and their digital ilk. I've learned a lot from him this year about PCs (and gaming), so it's always cool to hear his from-the-hip take on, well, computers and their digital ilk.
First and foremost, most people don't need computers. The average user ([l]user?) has little important/necessary work to do on one. Not only that, but the average user also has a complete lack of knowledge as to how one even works. Now granted I have no idea how a... well I guess I can't think of anything I use and don't have a basic idea of how it works... maybe Windows... I don't really know how that program works now that it's not a command line interface... anyway... most users write e-mail, play games, watch movies, listen to music. None of these activates was native to computing, granted they manifest themselves differently on a computer (multiplayer online games for instance, and electronic greeting cards etc.), they don't necessitate the use of a computer. I read an interesting article (can't remember for the life of me who wrote it or where) that showed that the speed at which people use word processors hasn't increased for the last 10 years or so. Sure, when I had my blue-screen copy of Lotus works running on my 286 I couldn't change between 105 different fonts, but now that I can, by using Word XP, how much faster am I typing? How much more productive am I? And, because Word has all these bells and whistles it isn't actually faster than my 286 copy of LW. Point is, most people don't need computers (me included), and most people who have them are using them for tasks better suited for a computer half the price they paid for the one they own. Using a modern computer to surf the net and write e-mail is like using a sledge hammer to drive a nail.
Second, computers are almost worthless without an internet connection. Or more accurately, computers for the common user are almost worthless without an internet connection. In the early days of my computing existence I played games on my Apple //e and listened to 4 channel audio renditions of Mozart. That's about it. Even during the x86 (here where x=2 or 4) days (c. 1992) I could live without connecting to the odd BBS now and again (whattup Nitrous, the Matrix, and the game of choice "Tradewars"). However today, even if I wanted to do the same things I had done with my //e I require a connection to the internet. Games? Forget about it if you don't have access to download the latest patch (but that's a whole 'nother rant), music, well you need to get it from file sharing programs from... the internet. And who writes mail these days ($.37 a stamp?... whatever) e-mail is the preferred method of communication, that or online chat. Heaven forbid I pick up a phone, then I can't pretend I'm really listening to someone while I play videogames or my guitar, or smack on my rice and chicken nuggets. The fact that an (often precarious) internet connection is mandatory ticks me off.
Third, I have a feeling that arcades are going to come back like they were in the 80's... actually I have a sneaking suspicion that all things 80's are going to come back en mode. I don't know how I feel about this. Granted the music was cool when I was a kid, but will it remain as cool now that it lacks that original nostalgia?...