Judith Lautner (judith) wrote,
Judith Lautner


One of the reasons I take the time to learn things about how computers work, when I do, even though it can be annoying, is that I believe there is a technology mystique and I'd like to do all I can to deflate that balloon. Several years ago I was invited to speak on a radio talk show, in a studio, simply because I wrote columns on "technology" for the local paper. The host didn't know me from Adam, or Eve either, and said as much when he introduced me. He had no idea why he'd invited me until I reminded him of the column thing.

My focus on that program was to emphasize that everyday people can learn this shit. That it isn't mysterious and amazing, and that the people comfortable with technology are not smarter than they are. I can't count how many times I have encountered dipshits who are in positions of techie authority who know nothing. But they walk the walk and deceive people again and again.

A related note: I learned the other day that a GIS tech - "Geographic Information Systems", computer mapping, earns more starting out than a planner. The planner spends four long years, usually more, learning his trade, and has to learn a ton more once she gets the job. The GIS person maybe spends a year to get what he or she needs. This is just wrong.

I don't recommend that everyone run out and buy books on Windows XP or javascript or whatever. What I recommend is that people lift the curtain.

Today I was noticing all the valves and other controls on a typical fire engine. It occurred to me that firemen have to understand those things, have to know where to put the hose, how to turn it on, how to turn it off, how to attach to a hydrant, and on and on. It isn't something I could do just walking in the door. But neither do we think it's all that mysterious. Computers are like that. We don't have to understand every working part or every software language to know that these things are knowable by those who are interested. They are not given only to the few with the magic key.

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