November 1, 2004

Why Do You Have to Know This Stuff?

Well, things are certainly changing in Blogdom, or whatever this strange "place" we all "inhabit" is called. I really like the way that blogging has taken off - it's almost becoming a new "killer app" layered on top of the web. For a while blogging was just something that a few random geeks did, but now we have journalists blogging, and bloggers journalising, and the boundaries between profession and spare-time occupation are rapidly blurring. This is indeed the way the information age was predicted, but it's interesting to see it become a reality.

Time was when the doctors would be bothered by people at parties: "I've got this pain in my knee, can you tell me what it is?" Nowadays computer knowledge, once safely obscure, has become a magnet for the general public, and I get people asking me questions about their computers that five years ago would have been impossibly abstruse. Many of them still should be outside the bounds of lay knowledge even today if computers would only work properly, but of course Microsoft's operating systems have historically been of such poor quality that every user has been forced to absorb the basics of computing simply to retain a little sanity.

This in itself is an interesting phenomenon from the point of view of someone like me, who's been fascinated by computers since 1967. Many times I have observed that I am incredibly lucky to be able to earn my living doing something I find so enjoyable. My early employment, in a television factory and as a bus conductor among other things, was enough to teach me that very few get this opportunity. Yet I am forced to the conclusion that many casual computer users must also find this technology fascinating, or they would simply refuse to use the bloody things. I can't for the life of me understand how the average computer user is prepared to learn as much as they do just to get a bit of wrod processing done. People will laugh in fifty years about the dicsussions we are currently having on "ease of use".

There have been several jokes along the lines of "if Microsoft built cars", but I really can't see the average car user being prepared to learn what went on under the hood simply to be able to have the pleasure of driving around. I imagine, however, that this would indeed have been the case in the 1920s, when the "early adopters" were able to fix their own breakdowns. Perhaps the 21st century has brought us to the Model T stage of computing, and in fact many of the people who drove around in early Fords hated their cars but couldn't face a return to the inconvenience of riding around on a horse.

Anyway, I thought that this blog might be a good place to start recording random notes and jottings once more. is a more organized place, but seems to me better suited to essays and completed thoughts than my own little blog on a site that's pretty much under my control. So here it will be.

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