In Steven’s description, “Old World” computers are, well, computers. You have to configure them and update them and cajole them into working, and then cajole them into working better. He puts Windows, Linux and Mac OS X devices in that group (I’m not sure about the latter — more on that below).
A “New World” computer might not even really seem like a computer — it might be a phone, or a music player, or (though he doesn’t mention it) a videogame. The thing just works. When you want something better, you buy a new one. When you want to do a different kind of task, you get out a different device.
The really interesting insight (to me) in the piece is that “Old World” types are now sandwiched between generations of “New World” users — our kids, and our parents, are taking up smart phones and the like, and not really understanding our crusty old complaints about lack of upgradability or multitasking or access to the file system.
But what about those of us who’ve been using computers for decades, but who are (or were) Mac-centric, rather than coming from the PC world? My wife is a PC person to the core (she preferred DOS to early Windows — for all I know, she still prefers it). I’m a Mac guy. I don’t use a Mac now, since I’m unemployed (and therefore don’t use one at work) and use a PC laptop at home to be compatible with my wife’s stuff, but in my heart of hearts I still miss seeing a little “smiley Mac” icon pop up on my computer when it boots.
Even though I’m taking a computer tech class now, and looking at building my own computer from scratch (well, from components) that’ll run Windows and Linux, I still really like the idea of a computer that “just works.” So which “World” do I belong in? Both? Neither? My own little one (as usual)?