IBM's new 'SoulPad' is a virtual computer on a small portable storage device, like a USB key or an MP3 Player. According to IBM, SoulPad "enables a paradigm of mobile computing where a user can suspend his computing environment on one PC and resume it on another PC that he may have never seen before."

New Scientist takes the slightly creepy soul metaphor even further:

"The virtual computer's "soul" - as the researchers dub it - can then be uploaded to a new PC simply by plugging the portable device in. This host machine needs no special software or even a network connection to take on an entirely new personality."

My take: SoulWeb not far off

I can easily envisage a time in the future when we will not require a physical device to store one's computer "soul". I suggest that before long, you will be able to store all of your personal data on the Web. The IBM SoulPad is just an intermediary step towards a SoulWeb. Because why would we need a small mobile device when we can store everything on the Web?

I've been having a very interesting, sci-fi powered, email discussion with someone on this theme (before I heard about the SoulPad). My correspondent contends that we'll always need a physical device to store what he terms the "trust wall" of our data. My contention is that in future there will be no logical reason why even very personal data can't be stored on the Web, provided security and privacy implications have been solved by that point (admittedly that's a 'big if' looking at it with 2005 eyes).

Any fellow SF-minded Webheads out there with an opinion on this?