19.453 the present future of computing

From: Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard McCarty willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>
Date: Tue, 29 Nov 2005 07:02:54 +0000

               Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 19, No. 453.
       Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
                     Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu

         Date: Tue, 29 Nov 2005 06:53:33 +0000
         From: Michael Hart <hart_at_pglaf.org>
         Subject: Re: 19.449 the present future of computing

On Mon, 28 Nov 2005, Humanist Discussion Group (by way of Willard
McCarty <willard.mccarty_at_kcl.ac.uk>) wrote:

> Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 19, No. 449.
> Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London
> www.kcl.ac.uk/humanities/cch/humanist/
> www.princeton.edu/humanist/
> Submit to: humanist_at_princeton.edu
> Date: Mon, 28 Nov 2005 06:03:48 +0000
> From: Lynda Williams <lynda_at_okalrel.org>
> >
>>challenge is to learn how to master this new
>>arena -- one in which we are not writing programs
>>but adding intelligence to everything around us.
>>The limit is our ability to manage complexity. It
>>is a world in which resiliency is more important than perfection."
>Mmm. Only that we haven't done a very good job, to date, of managing
>complexity. In fact, I believe the current decade will be looked back
>on with amazement by future generations who will exclaim things like
>"people had over 100 different password to manage?" or "and platforms
>became obsolete every couple years?"
>The psychological limits of human beings is something innovators (and
>I have been one of them) seem ill equiped to take into account in
>their breathless race to usher in the next "new thing".
>I do agree that the mechanics of command languages, archane "how to"
>instructions and the like will have to disappear into the wordwork
>for real progress to occur. Much as print technology took a leap
>forward when various schemes for measuring paper were replaced with
>"page 1, page 2, page 3, etc." Too much of the knowledge required to
>operate modern computing systems is a meaningless, trivial froth of
>arbitrary superficialities that resist the application of deep
>knowledge to achieve productivity without an extensive training period.
>Lynda Williams, http://www.okalrel.org

We are obviously going through what will be called the "pioneering"
years of computing, and this will continue until growth rates maybe
slow down enough for one generation to pass on hardware or software
to the next, or until the combination of hardware and software gets
to the point where nearly anyone can do nearly anything wanted in a
short enough time that the continued progress is not relevent to an
ordinary computer user.

If you consider the "pioneering" years of railroads, cars, planes &
various other technologies, you will see they also had these years,
when everything was changing so quickly from year to year that your
map had to be continually updated to match the territory or else it
was all likely to pass you by.

You will usually find this with any technologies that are not quite
thoroughly operated under monopolistic power, such as the telephone
until competition was allowed.


Happy Holidays!

Michael S. Hart
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Received on Tue Nov 29 2005 - 02:28:43 EST

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