Mailinglist Archive: opensuse (2629 mails)

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Re: [SLE] Is Linux Ready? --> How to cyber cajole new users?

Some thoughts on the Admiralty's and Kevin's perceptive comments.

> > But where would we be without it? I bet the vast majority of the people
> > this list started off with a DOS machine. > >

> We would not even look at computers in the same way as we do now. Your
> grannie would use computers on a daily basis and never even know it.

The majority of folks in the World today started off on Windows with a
smaller percentage having started on Macs. On a fairly regular basis I
encounter a number who are still struggling to *start off* on anything
useful despite having paid plenty for the latest WinPuter. There is this
fantasy that Windoz makes it easier for new users and they buy in thinking
they won't have learn anything technologically challenging. I regularly
encounter these folks whose email freezes up the moment you suggest that
they pull up a DOS shell and enter a 3 letter command. The cyber prognosis
for Mac users is typically a little better - they get some things done soon
after unpacking the computer and so feel less intimidated by the whole
thing. The brutal reality is that both Windoz and Mac users arrive at a
point in the person-machine relationship that demands delving into Beyond
GUIness or at least into Deeply Nested Dialogtopia. There is currently no
such thing as the state of KnowCyberNothingness with today's OS platforms.
It is a marketing illusion - mere smoke and mirrors. And there are hundreds
of millions of CyberCripples infected with KnowCyberNothingness lining all
sides of the digital highway to prove it.

A good metric for actually examining the current state of CyberDumb is the
rate at which an Active-X virus spreads. Years ago software engineers were
astounded to see Microsoft introducing a technology that would potentially
let outsiders do anything to your computer - write data to the hard disk,
format the hard disk or even smoke the system board via Flash programming.
Java's reason to exist was largely that it was designed not to allow this -
that was the design intent. Just imagine the wide open alternative: anyone,
anywhere on the world wide web can potentially do anything to anyone else's
computer via ActiveAny. How many computer users actually know that anything
they click in an OverlyOptimisticOutlook e-mail window is potentially an
ActiveAny component that might fry their Flash memory? Apparently not very
many, judging by the rate at which an e-mail virus spreads these days. This
is pretty fundamental knowledge, akin to "we drive on right (or left) side
of the road in this country." Both the amount of damage per episode and
rate of spread, serve as strong indicators that the marketing spread
illusion which says, "You can use today's computers and know nothing," is
just not true.

Where indeed would we be without MS Marketeers. Perhaps we would place more
emphasis on training. I tried since S-100 days to get my wife using a
computer - no joy! A few years ago she took a course from an instructor
with that very rare and valuable talent for teaching new users. I am
astounded at how much she has learned in just a few years - even on MS
Windoz - even from ME, now. I once got kicked out of an 11th grade English
class for a satirical essay on the value of creativity over rigid
conformance that proposed we would one day think our ideas into hardware
(perhaps a case of too much science fiction). After many years of doing
system and software engineering, I suspect that we will not see the computer
that we can think ideas into, for quite a while yet. While we are waiting
for the Marketeer's dream of a computer so smart that the user is not needed
(shows how smart Marketeers are), we need to start examining the
alternatives. The interesting question for Linux, KDE, GNOME, SAMBA and
Apache is, " How can we seduce, cajole and enlighten folks who think they do
not want to learn about computers, into incrementally discovering that they
are power users?" This seems the most important challenge now.

Ed Scott
PS - In the interest of cross-informing, visit here for Kakworm patch from
MS (remove leading &):

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