posted Mar 07, 2001

Computer Programming for Everybody
Technology & Sociology
3/8/2001; 1:03:54 AM

'In the seventies, Xerox PARC asked: "Can we have a computer on every desk?" We now know this is possible, but those computers haven't necessarily empowered their users. Today's computers are often inflexible: the average computer user can typically only change a limited set of options configurable via a "wizard" (a lofty word for a canned dialog), and is dependent on expert programmers for everything else.

'We ask a follow-up question: "What will happen if users can program their own computer?" We're looking forward to a future where every computer user will be able to "open the hood" of their computer and make improvements to the applications inside. We believe that this will eventually change the nature of software and software development tools fundamentally.

'We compare mass ability to read and write software with mass literacy, and predict equally pervasive changes to society. Hardware is now sufficiently fast and cheap to make mass computer education possible: the next big change will happen when most computer users have the knowledge and power to create and modify software.'

Now you understand why people like, say, me, find news like the news 'The open PC is dead' so horrible.  The most dangerous (and possibly overlooked) aspect of the headlong rush into proprietary systems that won't allow anyone to commit any 'crimes' is that these same devices won't allow anybody to do anything innovative, interesting, or basically unapproved/forseen by machine's true owner either!

If we lock our computers down until they are nothing but glorified televisions, we will lose the true revolutionary power of computers, which is the amplification of the power of the human mind.

The realization that we are expending so much effort taking the most powerful tool for mankind in the world and bastardizing it into a method for extracting money from rubes by jamming pre-processed entertainment tripe and making sure said tripe can only come from Big Media Conglomerate can be nausea inducing!

(Also be sure to see the Motivation section.)


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