[oclug] Re: Fwd: Re: Why we have Source code
bbarnett at l8r.net
bbarnett at l8r.net
Wed Jan 24 07:44:35 EST 2001
On 24-Jan-2001 Matt Rose wrote:
> On Wed, 24 Jan 2001, Rod Giffin wrote:
>> On Tuesday 23 January 2001 18:09, David F. Skoll wrote:
>> > On Tue, 23 Jan 2001, Rod Giffin wrote:
>> > [Francis Pinteric]
>> > > >Being able to
>> > > >programme a computer in the so-called computer age is equivelent to
>> > > >knowing how to read.
> Nope. Knowing how to read is equivalent is knowing how to read.
> Knowing how to program a computer is like being able to design and build
> a car engine from scratch. It seems I can never stress this enough. A
> computer is a *tool*. Sure, they're neat tools, and they can do lots of
> stuff, and they can do exactly what you want them to, if you know how to
> program. But for 99% of the population, it's really not that important.
I disagree. Building a program has nothing on the complexity of building *and*
designing a modern car engine. In fact, building a program is like overhauling
your car. Giving it a tune up, or changing the oil, or maybe something more
intense, like changing the break pads.
If you want to liken computer programming to building a car (and I'm not
blaming you for likening one thing to another, you're just following the theme,
so I will as well), then keep this in mind. Programming isn't low level at
all, 99.9% of the time. No one stated anything about designing an *operating
system* for the computer, or device drivers, or anything as complex or low
level as that. You can program for hours, and write tons of simple and
non-complex programs, without getting to the level of complexity that you would
with an auto engine design and build.
Going back to the reading analogy brings up another point. There are quite a
few people out there that can read, and write.. but can't do it well. These
are people that can read stop signs, read the screen on the ATM, sign their
name, and write letters. Imagine the world of difference even this basic
reading and writing ability makes in their lives, and imagine the level of
computer integration in those same lives in 20 years. One can argue
that reading isn't necessary, just like someone can argue that programming
ability isn't a necessity. Sure, 400 years ago, the ability to read WASN'T
necessary, but look at it now. I am quite sure you are going to see quite a
change in the day to day need for programming in the future, by the average
man. Is scripting programming? Yes, it is. Being able to modify the
behaviour of your email client requires programming, if you want to do anything
complex. Is editing your batch files programming? Yes, it is.
Some of these same people with literacy training (for like of a better
phrase) could *never* write a novel, and dread the thought of reading OR
writing. Programming should be taught in school just like everything else, from
an early age. Most people won't grow up to be an author. Some won't even
graduate public school with the proficiency needed to get by in society.
Let's look at this century, and the last. Look at the number of people that
have programming knowledge today, compared to 10 years ago. Twenty years.
Look at the number of people coming out of high school, and then out of college
with a *basic* knowledge of programming. The numbers are still on the rise,
still on the increase. After a certain point, when a certain percentage of the
population has an ability that the rest doesn't, it starts to become mainstream
enough that those without that ability will desire it in their day to day
lives. What is that percentage? 10% 20% 25%? When does programming move
from elitist, to common? Its already started.
>> > >
>> > > Since without explanation it seems an idealistic opinion, I almost want
>> > > to object out of hand - and I did have a good reason for a second.
>> > > Almost as soon as I started to write my reply, it dawned on me the
>> > > reason
>> > > that you are right, and that arguements to the contrary don't really
>> > > hold
>> > > water.
> Here's an argument to the contrary. Why is it important to anyone
> to know how to program? If you don't know the details of how to build an
> Electronic fuel injection system, does that mean you're not allowed to
> drive? If you don't know how to build a clock, does that mean you're not
> allowed to know what time it is?
Of course not. Sure, you're allowed to drive. Sure, you're allowed to read
the time on the clock. However, you should have a basic understanding and
ability to *set* the clock. You should be able to change your oil. Every
ability we lack, is a way we've lost to change and modify the universe around
us. Now take a moment, and stop and think about how much computers and
computing technology are going to effect the universe around us in the next
century. Now stop, and ask yourself if you want the *average* citizen to lack
the basic knowledge to modify that universe.
> The utter elitism of that statement is what has set the computer
> industry back time and time again. It seems that programmers seem to
> think that, instead of making their programs easier to use, or less
> error-prone, they say that users should learn to program. It's like the
> old joke about the guy who goes to the doctor, and says "Doc, it hurts
> when I do this!" and the Doctor replies "Well, don't do that then!"
First, before discussing this, let me add that this isn't a fair statement.
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