Hardly a day passes without news of another development in wirelesscommunication, wearable computers, palmtops, or some other aspect ofmobile computing. Yet, in spite of this frenzied activity, thoughtfulcomputer scientists have nagging doubts about the intellectual depthof this field. The shrinking of machines and the transmission of datawithout wires may be technical marvels. But is there anything more tomobile computing? Is it a passing fad, or will it be the source ofenduring new challenges in computer science?
I will address these questions by first examining the fundamentalconstraints of mobile information access. These constraints lead tothe realization that adaptation is a critical requirement formobility. Providing support for adaptation has many consequences thatpervade system design. I will briefly report on our experience withCoda and Odyssey, two experimental systems for mobile informationaccess. The experience we have gained with these systems reveals anumber of deep conceptual issues that have relevance outside mobilecomputing. The concluding part of this talk will discuss these issuesand explore their long-term implications.