What happened to the PC vision?: My guest post on ZDNet

Hi guys. Just FYI, a little more than a week ago I wrote a comment on one of Paul Murphy’s blog postings, called “The worst PC myth of all”. Murphy is a blogger on ZDNet. He liked my comment a lot, and he and I agreed to have it as a guest post on his blog, called “Managing L’Unix”. I changed it a bit for posting, but the message is the same. It showed up today, titled “The PC vision was lost from the get-go”.

Paul Murphy sees himself as an “agent of change” in IT systems, so he tends to talk mostly about his philosophy of infrastructure, and his own attempts at reforming it in businesses. I read his blog often, because I have gotten insights from him in the past, especially when he talks occasionally about software development/programming issues. In fact, one of his posts from a couple years ago inspired me to search for material on the internet related to something he talked about. This led to a feast of information, knowledge, and wisdom, which I have continued to explore and enjoy to this day.

—Mark Miller, https://tekkie.wordpress.com

6 thoughts on “What happened to the PC vision?: My guest post on ZDNet

  1. It seems to me that computers very quickly moved away from the Model-T paradigm where anyone could master the whole think just by reading a paperback-sized book. When I was a teenager the 8-bit microcomputers had just the right blend of challenging fun.

    Even though the new computers are more powerful in some undeniable ways, the guy on the street is not encouraged to learn even the simplest of programming languages which would be the beginning of real computer literacy. The operating system providers do absolutely nothing to open their systems in this way. An icon on the desktop for a fun and easy programming language would really help. Instead people think programming is hard, and they are not told how much fun it can be.

    There’s no good reason why computers have to be so mysterious and closed.

  2. Carl –

    I remember when DOS came with QBASIC, and made it pretty accessible, even included the source to a game or three (Nibbles, Gorillas, maybe one or two more) as a good learning resource. Now? Sure, *Nix’s come with a boatload (I need to make an ISO proposal for “boatload” as a unit of measurement…) of languages on them, but nearly none of them are languages I would call “fun languages that someone could teach themselves with”, and those that *do* fit that mold lack the tools to make them accessible to newcomers. Do you *really* want a world where people “get into it” by re-implementing “ls” and “more” in C as their first self taught project? Neither do I. 🙂 I would love to see something Ruby (from what I’ve heard of it, with a good editor/debugger thrown in) or Squeak (from what Mark says about it) in a “learn to compute” edition of *Nix. Sadly, the only group outside of OLPC persuing this is… Microsoft. they’ve got the “XNA Studio” system which lets people write games for XBox and Direct X, all for free, with lots of examples. That’s the way to attract the next generation of would be coders. Is it good? Sure, I love what they’re doing. Is C# a bad language? Not for most purposes, it won’t kill you. Do I want a world where the next generation cut their teeth on Visual Studio and C# with no mentoring from someone more experienced, and they get sucked right into the Microsoft ecosystem? No way. I view the .Net world like I view drinking straight gin. Most people try it once or twice, some even like it, but it should not be attempted until you know what you’re doing and have someone watching your back while you do it until you’ve gotten some experience in it…


  3. Pingback: The computer as medium « Tekkie

  4. Pingback: Does computer science have a future? « Tekkie

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