Here’s my favorite quotation from Clive Thompson’s February 2009 article for Wired magazine, “The Netbook Effect: How Cheap Little Laptops Hit the Big Time.”

Netbooks prove that the “cloud” is no longer just hype. It is now reasonable to design computers that outsource the difficult work somewhere else. The cloud tail is wagging the hardware dog.

Netbooks are a major game-changer for laptops, 1:1 learning initiatives, and computing more generally. Netbooks represent an INNOVATION that is disrupting and will continue to disrupt the computing industry. Thompson writes in his article:

In The Innovator’s Dilemma, Clayton Christensen famously argued that true breakthroughs almost always come from upstarts, since profitable firms rarely want to upend their business models. “Netbooks are a classic Christensenian disruptive innovation for the PC industry,” says Willy Shih, a Harvard Business School professor who has studied both Quanta’s work on the One Laptop per Child project and Asustek’s development of the netbook.

In his article, Thompson also confirms the assertion I’d read elsewhere that OLPC was the cause/source for the netbook outbreak.

I’d heard that Microsoft has extended its licensing of Windows XP (oh joy) for another two years, but until reading Thompson’s article I hadn’t realized the primary reason for this extension was the netbook outbreak which Microsoft terms “ULCPCs” in its announcement about WinXP’s extension.

I’m not QUITE at the point of being ready to purchase another laptop, but I’m getting close, and I’ll readily admit I’m eyeing netbooks closely. (As someone very interested in constructively disrupting teaching and learning patterns in traditional schools, how could I NOT consider a netbook?!) I’d love to buy a MacBook Air if the hard drive was bigger and the price point lower. I’m tempted by the new MacBook, but the lack of firewire (and therefore the laptop’s impotency to Ustream conference sessions with a DV camcorder) has me hesitating. Is there a netbook in my computing future? I think the answer is yes, but I’m not sure about the timeframe yet.

Thanks to Miguel Guhlin for pointing me to Thompson’s article via his recent post and article for TCEA’s TechEdge: “Download a la Mode: Netbooks Go Viral.”

I wrote the post “Netbook Classroom Experiences And Related Resource Articles” for ISTE’s NECC 2009 blog this evening also, which includes a variety of links and resource recommendations related to netbooks. My top recommendation in that article as far as netbook technology integration “voices” and resources go is Tony Vincent’s February 12th “Soft Reset” podcast “Netbooks in Fort Smith.” Tony’s description for the episode is:

Fort Smith Public Schools has nearly 20 classrooms using Eee PC netbooks. George Lieux, technology professional development specialist, gathered up nine classroom teachers to talk with Tony Vincent about their use of the mini laptops. Tony speaks with these elementary, middle, and high school teachers who all share valuable classroom management tips as well as great curriculum integration ideas. If you are thinking about getting class sets of netbooks, you have got to listen to this episode!

Even innovative university professors are now jumping on the netbook bandwagon! :-)

Comparing Netbooks

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  • http://www.exploringthehyper.net Penny

    I too thought that a netbook would be great, especially while traveling! But you know what? They _hurt_ for extended use. Being the last-minute person that I am, I found myself madly finishing a conference paper whilst traveling. I ended up with quite bad RSI from typing, and I’ve been typing for my entire literate life.

    So… although netbooks might be great for kids with smaller fingers, I wouldn’t recommend one for adult use. Even if it is just on the conference circuit.

  • http://www.wesfryer.com Wesley Fryer

    What kind of Netbook were you using, Penny? I haven’t used one for long periods of time yet, but I did notice big differences in the size of the keyboard keys between the Dell and HP models shown in the photo above. As someone who does spend lots of time on the keyboard, I certainly am attuned to the ergonomic issues you’re raising here.

  • http://www.exploringthehyper.net Penny

    I was using one of the bigger ones – an EeePC 1000H. So it had a fairly decent-sized keyboard compared to the Acer or smaller EeePC models… or so I thought!

    But bear in mind I was doing a lot more intensive typing than you usually would just checking emails, writing blog posts etc :)

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