bootslack

Pure signal.

Why there is an arguement, dumbshit motherfucker.

On December 11, conformist hack and null-visionary blog A Geek from Kansas argued: “Some people like to rebuild engines; other people just like to drive their cars. That’s not much of a reason to fight, or for the mechanics to feel superior.” to justify his contention that the arrogance of the Linux/Open Source community over their model of computing was unjustified, and that we should “back off of the rhetoric” at the risk of making Windows users uncomfortable.

An operating system is just an operating system, and everyone is entitled to their opinion, right? Wrong. Dead wrong. Ideological relativism is all fine and dandy until you are the one on the operating table and the surgeon is cutting into you. Do you want the surgeon to understand real objective medicine (he is cutting now, the blade is entering your actual body as you speak) or is it OK for him to have just any old idea, being that ideas are just ideas?

I must say, the computer-automobile analogy is the core of the problem regarding people and operating systems.

A computer is not a commodity — that shift of thinking is something which has happened over the last 25 years — it is mostly the fault of Microsoft, however Apple gets hate points for trying.

A computer is an ABILITY. A Universal Turing Machine is an IDEA — and effectively using that idea is the heart of what makes a computer work. Not every computer needs a keyboard. Not every computer needs a screen. But they all follow the same basic rules and from those rules come their power, and from understanding those rules comes the Human Genome Project, the Hubble Space Telescope and ITER — none of which could exist without computers. Some people believe that you, dear reader, are grown up enough to handle learning those rules, some people (like the Church in the Middle Ages) would rather you stay illiterate.

The computer is as fundamental an addition to the arsenal of human understanding as language was. Not the printing press, language. We haven’t even begun to explore how much we are going to be changed by this device — and that fucking toaster sitting on your desk isn’t a tenth of it.

The problem with Windows is not that it is an operating system with advantages and disadvantages — the problem with Windows is that it hides the fact that you can put any pattern of ones and zeros whatsoever on that massive grid of switches called a Microprocessor. The Windows operating system is as offensive to intellectual integrity and human creativity as purchasing a notebook, and having it come with drop down menus with the words that an average user might be expected to use , and maybe a page in the back where you can write groups of 5 words (in whatever order you want).

The point of getting the source code is THAT YOU CAN CHANGE IT IF YOU ARE WILLING TO LEARN HOW. I am using all caps because I am yelling. That means you should pay attention or I might hit you.

Proprietary operating systems fundamentally limit what a person can do with that wonderful (and brand new!) gift of the computer. Arguing about computer literacy is like arguing about literacy, not poking around under the hood of a car. It is fine that only a few people want to tinker with their cars — but it is not fine if we were to decide that we didn’t need everyone to be literate. Language is the currency of civilization today, computer language is going to be the currency of civilization tomorrow.

You might feel bad that people think you are stupid because you can’t read, but you know it’s true, and that makes you try (dyslexics are forgiven here — there is obviously more to language skills than the task of rote word recognition — facility with language is what I really mean in this metaphor) and the fact that everyone tries damn hard, and is ashamed when they fail, is part of why our society is as strong as it is. You wouldn’t let an illiterate person operate on your child. I don’t trust Microsoft with my data.

I would like to see more people feel bad for not living up to their computers. Nothing would benefit our society more than the instantiation of a norm of technical literacy.

Anyone who tells you that it is OK for you not to know how to read because they will tell you everything you need to know (unless you are one of those “radicals” the blog I cite above spends so much space disparaging, who needs to think things out for themselves – but of course we all know they are smug elitist geeks) either is stupid themselves, or is assuming you are. — and ANYONE who uses the “tinkering” metaphor with regard to free software is mistaking recognizing a thought for the ability to think. That way lies the dark ages.

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December 13, 2007 - Posted by | People who fucking Suck

3 Comments »

  1. By the way — after sneering at his inane post, you might want to check out the rest of his blog (A Geek From Kansas). He’s actually a pretty cool guy, and a number of his other ideas are totally worth looking at.

    James

    Comment by bootslack | December 13, 2007 | Reply

  2. “I am using all caps because I am yelling. That means you should pay attention or I might hit you.”

    HA!HA!HA!… I am typing HA!HA!HA! because I am laughing. That means you are fucking funny and I am paying attention. Please, you no hit. Me understandy.

    Comment by Chuk! | December 14, 2007 | Reply

  3. So, I’m new. And am yet to read the opposing arguement.
    Although I did want to state that I did appreciate this read.

    I never thought of operating systems as more or less a lazy mother who will read me to sleep out of kindness but when I ask how she read the words, she is less willing if at all.

    However,I guess the reality is not to many of us are asking because we know its difficult. And, if you are like my parents who use a computer for the mere use of playing cards without a mess to clean, mah jong without owning the pieces, or writing out bills and printing them so that both parties can read the “handwriting”, then its not really needed.

    To ask someone to master a language that they may not use would be a waste of time. I do see a reason to at least know the fundamentals of how something works, and most people actually do.

    My guess is 90% of people I know understand what binary is without knowing how to use it. Just like the same percentage if not less understand how a car actually works. Although the mechanics of the internal combustion engine, the computers, hydrolics, and whatever else that might be involved elude most of us, having that knowledge is actually just as important.

    We don’t however, we pay people who did want to learn these things to fix them for us. Does this make us slaves to automechanics? Essentially to some degree I suppose, we do have to pay what they say. We trust that they aren’t lieing.
    We don’t HAVE to agree though.

    Same goes for cellphones, satelites, farming, things we rely on everyday. Although the intimate knowledge of these things would be wonderful its nearly impossible to have this knowledge.

    We as a race understand we have to work together to strive and move forward. Technology demands that we do.

    I appologize for going off base here. I do that, I start with one point and bleed into a bigger or different point many times.

    In the end, we are all “stupid mother fuckers” about something. And the dumbest “stupid mother fuckers” are the ones who seriously think they have a grasp of EVERYTHING they need to survive in this world without someone to help read some type of language to them. Be it mechanical language, a different verbal language, computer language, cooking language, what have you.

    I strive as much as the next moron to not be dependent on someone for something. It’s not impossible, its just impossible for our present way of living.

    Comment by Skio | December 22, 2009 | Reply


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