Midgital Computer

Everyone’s been going on about this recently


It’s a little baby computerlet, with an aspirational price of about 15 quid.

That’s cheap – I think that’s less than an arduino isn’t it? It’s got a built in camera as well, and USB ports and whatnot… and it runs a very recent version of ubuntu… the version before the one I’m using on this laptop. It runs 9.04. I’m using 9.10.

So… once upon a time Clay Shirkey said that every child knows that a tv without a mouse is broken. Things have moved on – now a computer without a web-connection is broken. Swap the camera for a wifi modem in other words.

So. My thoughts.

1) needs seperate I/O modules. An I module and an O module…

I : being camera(s), microphone(s), GPS, gyros, temperature-sensors, light-sensors… the standard USB-keyboard/mouse should be seperate things I think. This should be a little unit that contains all these in a solid lump.

O: being speakers and a screen. Maybe some sort of tactile thing.

With these modules it has all the potential of a cell-phone-as-detachable-head – but as it runs ubuntu, you can do a LOT more with it.

So… we’re on the brink of a sensors-revolution… an important part of this will be sensors.

2) what are you going to use it for (it does ask on the site)?

– it has the potential to make every TV a computer. My brother just bought a TV – that has built-in wifi, but as far as I can see, it offers a radically cut-down “choice” of websites (eg: youtube) that you’re allowed to look at… looking for all the world like the $5 option in the no-net-neutrality horror-poster


If I’ve got this right, this is already being done – built into new TVs. The banaaaaaaaal predictability of evil.

If you stick a little 15 quid computer to the side of your computer then you can concievably change the way that TV is watched… the potential of playlists (as already being done by youtube) really comes into its own – because broadcast TV as we know it is so far below adequate… it’s like cold-war USSR TV tailored to capitalism. And it’s fucking awful.

That’s the first thing I thought of.

Ok. It’s not the first thing. The first thing was to attach a wifi transmitter to it and fly it on a micro-glider into a tree in the grounds of someone who deserves to be in prison, but our govts do fuck all about it… and transmit their traffic to the world. I think about assasination a lot these days, but it has to be assasination by information. We live in the info-era afterall, and using the medium-of-communication owned by the evil-empire (violence) just gives them an excuse to do what they do really well (be violent back). The evil empire wants you to be violent so badly that it’s fairly commonplace for them to pretend to be you, being violent – to put inciters-of-violence in protests for example. Yes, even in England.

So that’s the first thing.

3) People have been going on about “smart everythings” and an internet-of-things for a long time now. This could be an easy-in. Little PHP-capable devices which every web-dev in the world could program without having to learn anything new – I mean arduino is good, but you need to learn a new language. PHP is already everywhere… and with MySQL you’re basically going from “smart-device” to “really smart-device”. The already-established base of programmers is the thing though. That’s the Intel-Outside.

If this happens then there will be a fairly huge demand for a unified-driver-layer. Plug-n-play for absolutely fucking everything in other words.

Could be interesting. I’d get one.

2 Comments » for Midgital Computer
  1. I believe what you’ve so cleverly put here about the non net neutrality folks is absolutely, yet sadly, true.

    I also believe that that is the very least of how deep the manipulation goes. And further that there is no way to do anything about it. Again.

  2. Nick Taylor says:

    No way, apart from route around the control.

    We have forces of nature on our side. I wouldn’t be too despairing of this one.

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