What's a Chumby? It's a mashable toy. A chumby is a Wifi Enabled stuffed-animal, alarm clock, picture frame hybrid thing that you can put next to your bed (or on your desk, in your living room). It's always connected to the Internet, and displays whatever you would like it to from the Web - pictures, news, photos, weather, whatever. When you receive one, you set it up with a playlist of widgets from their web site, and off you go. Chumbys go for less than $200.00 and don't have any monthly fee. Now, I'm sure that at least three of my four kids will want one (they might not get one, but the want will be there), but why do I want one?
It's mashable. The chumby is open, and the fine Chumby folks make the hardware and software specs available to you. I would like to purchase one for each member of my extended family, then make a flickr channel with the family's pictures (from my four brothers and sisters, and their family) so that we could have a distributed family picture slideshow for everybody. How about taking the top 100 songs from each of our iTunes playlists and making the Howe Channel for music? How about using some client of our cell phones with a giant Google Maps where is the Howe Now?
The deeply amazing thing about lightweight programming models is how they radically expand the set of people who can create new services, and therefore the new services they create. I want all my engineering friends to have the Chumby mindset, so we can dream more and be disillusioned less.