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Re: Social Computering vs. Computer Science

by spiritway (Vicar)
on Nov 23, 2005 at 07:15 UTC ( #511017=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Social Computering vs. Computer Science

I think with a new technology, the distinction between the technicians and the users is originally blurred. I am reminded of the early days of television, when you almost had to be an engineer to work the thing. You'd have to adjust it, tweak a whole set of knobs and switches, just to get it to work. Tubes would burn out, and you'd have to open the back, take out all the tubes, and test them to see which one was defunct. And so on. These days, you turn it on and it "just works".

Similarly, early computers required many users to program them. Available software was limited. Killer apps like Word hadn't been developed. Computers came with BASIC installed, and it was expected that you'd use it. If you needed something done, you often had to do it yourself. As the technology matured, many tasks became easier. We're not there yet, but we're getting to a point where you turn it on and it "just works". But until that time, there is likely to be considerable overlap between barely technical users and those properly trained (formally or otherwise) in computer science.

Your complaint about documentation really hit a nerve. It used to be that when you bought a computer, you'd get documentation that weighed more than the computer did (well, nearly so). It was filled with wonderful technical details, anything you could want and much more. Now, you get a "Quick Start" poster and a disk that has a PDF file on it. Most of that is either overly simplified crap (push the button on the mouse), or fluff from marketing. There's not much useful information any more. But the companies are targeting a larger audience now, the large number of basically non-technical users who do need to be walked through the basics.

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