Royal Standard Has Given Way To a Royal Pain

“The computer industry defies the pattern of all previous technological revolutions, making little or no progress toward convenience. It takes much longer to turn on your machine in the morning now than it did 20 years ago. The reaction of the clueless masses is to grumble and crack wise and then meekly accept the commands of our techie masters.” Marc Fisher

Royal Standard Has Given Way To a Royal Pain WashPost)

I don’ t think Fisher is right when he says computers take longer to boot up now. Maybe the c:> prompt would pop up right away, but then you had to load a program — perhaps from a tape cassette, which involved pressing the “play” button and listening to the computer squawk and bleat for a few minutes. Then, you had to swap out the program cassette and insert your data cassette. And if you were in the middle of working on one file, you couldn’t just hit ALT TAB to open up a new window. Of course, Fisher could save himself that trouble by not shutting down his computer in the evening — just leave it on. The power-saving utilities will kick in, shut down the monitor and power down the CPU. But Fisher’s main complaint is that he doesn’t want to learn anything new — which is kind of sad. When Sugatra Mitra installed a computer in makeshift outdoor kiosk in a slum in India, the street kids taught themselves how to use the machine almost instantly, with no formal instruction: “I contend that by the time we are 16, we are taught to want teachers, taught that we cannot learn anything without teachers.” That mindset reminds me of the student who wrote on a recent course evaluation: “Why do you give us all these papers to do when instead you should just teach us to write?”