Persistent Architecture

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Definition

Standard-issue computer mice and keyboards are examples of Persistent Architecture. Though other more efficient input devices may exist, the tendency for the general public to stick with the same devices over decades of technological change and development is a known issue. There is an inherent friction in switching from one system of muscle memory to another, and it is also expensive and risk-prone for manufacturers of new types of input devices and computer peripherals to enter the marketplace. Apple computer's touch devices were the first challenge to a long period of architectural stagnation.

Mouse inventor Doug Englebart did not expect the mouse to be a permanent or long-lasting solution to data manipulation and input[1] but rather as a step towards a better input device, or direct input such as the touch screen. Instead, the computer mouse persisted and later proliferated into the mass computer market, becoming a mainstay on desks in home and professional computing environments. It was not until stylus-devices, laptop touch pads, POS touch screens and finally Apple touchscreen products became available that the computer mouse began to lose its dominant hold on the general public.

Persistent architectures prevent alternative systems from experimenting and surviving, but are almost always wiped out by well-designed alternatives well beyond their expiration date. The mouses not the best way to input data, but there was not good enough support for alternative input devices, such as the Twiddler, etc. for these devices to become popular. Though many other options exist, some pieces of software or hardware become persistent architectures simply because they were introduced to a large amount of people at the same time as their first experience with a computer.

On the other hand, persistent architectures can provide a standard with which many people from different demographics and communicate over time. For instance, the Powerpoint presentation format can be read on most computers. The PDF is a persistent architecture that is a solid standard of communication, and browsers allow many different types of websites and content to be viewed on almost most modern computers.

References

  1. Author Unknown. Douglas Engelbart. I, Programmer. Published 05 December 2009. Accessed 02 July 2011. http://www.i-programmer.info/history/people/497-doug-engelbart.html