On habitual automation (a text in progress)

Posted on 2017-10-26 by lars
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There is an obvious conflict between the call for early on digital education and “empowerment” and the often stated “I just want it to work” when facing computer-related problems. Well, yes, the computer is a tool to make work and life easier and it is not — or should — not be interfere with the actual topics, like building houses or feeding the world, that society actually has to work on. But, and the important part always is stated after a “but”, a computer and the algorithmic automation it provides, are not that simple as — for example — a hammer, whose qualities necessary to understand for operation of the tool, are much, much simpler and much less powerful. (Arguably, especially after you hit your thumb with the thing.)

But the point is, you cannot essentially request that your children are educated to become throughoutly computer-literate and at the same time withdraw yourself behind a wall of icons, “intuitive design” and ignorance. Thus, using some informal way of reasoning, we can deduct, that we cannot have ignorance and education at the same time — which means we have to choose one. As a self-chosen red-pill-adictive, I am strictly in the education team and will have none of the blissful ignorance. Well at least not in this particular area.

But how can be educate computer literacy? What is the fundamental knowledge that allow our digital survival in a similar way as some knowledge on flint was required in the stone age?

Well, I’d like to give two different reasons for interfaces that allow algorithmic expression and whose only useable implementations to date is the command line interface.

(Here is a part on the bandwith of “communication” between me and my computer — mouse or keyboard or swipe or gesture — missing.)

(Here is the actual core of my point, the call for learning interaction with the machine in a way that makes you understand what you are doing and increasingly improves the way you can interact with the machine — it is yet still missing.)

If you don’t want to listen to me, maybe go and read “At the beginning was the command line” by the increadible brilliant Neal Stephenson.