I agree with the assertion that computers are used primarily to replicate old technologies (ink and paper, drawers full of files) but I think a lot of the reason for that is that there is an objective need for those tasks to be replicated. People need to be able to write and keep records; computers make those tasks infinitely more efficient (I'm thinking electronic data storage and databases in particular.)
The problem with all of the "new paradigm" gainsaying that technologists carry on about is that they rarely have a hard-and-fast description of what they *want* computers to be doing. Last I checked, the internet is a great educational resource and computers _are_ used in education all the time. He's right that browsers don't allow people to author things on the web...oh, wait, I'm typing this in right now from Firefox and it's easier than writing a note out by hand would be...
Not trying to be a prick, I just can't help but feel that when anyone, including seminal computer researchers, come up with a big "all computers suck!" rant it isn't especially _useful_.
Yeah... I agree with Alan Kay. There is more that browsers and word processors can do to help people be more productive and creative. I also agree that business has dominated what computers do and how they do it, but I think that's because most businesses want their staff to focus on getting the work done and not having their heads in the clouds with a bunch of artsy fartsy creative stuff :roll: .
That is to say that business wants to control the way their people think, so they start by controlling how their people work. And that's a shame, but unfortunately it's becoming more and more prevalent in American society. Business likes to talk about thinking outside the box, but so far, it's all talk. It's more like stay in the box (ahem... cubical) and don't come out until your work is done... Why do you think telecommuting hasn't taken off as much as it should have by now? They don't want any mavericks out there changing things around (possibly in a better way) from the way it's done now.
When I lived in China, '98-99, my eyes were opened to some new ideas. I was in a computer store buying a computer when a gentleman started talking to me (in English) about computers and culture. He said "We have any technololgy that the USofA has, but you have the "culture" that allows you to use the computer".
That, at first look, is very true. Our progress from telegraph to radio, telephone, TV, FAX has been our baby steps. When we got connected we could do things. We could do the same old same old faster and better.
Now, through the medium of the computer, almost daily I hear of some people in another part of the world doing things that gets the job done but in ways that we never thought of. An example: There is a location in India that was a few days from the nearest post-office. From that PO the mail could takes days if not weeks to arrive. Someone started scanning the mail and sending it as e-mail to the ONE computer in that town. That may not seem to you as much of a step but having been in the same situation I am wowed.
The evolution of the human mind is going to hit warp speed, soon!
That (scanning hard copies + sending them over the net) hits on one of the main points that the original article overlooks, IMHO: While computers themselves might not be used "creatively," at least in a business sense, the internet IS used creatively. I agree with snct on this one...telecommuting exposes the central falacy of the workday since someone working from home will usually work a lot harder and more efficiently to get their day's work done then have more time to themselves. Thus, management is against it because they *want* to be able to squeeze more out of people, even though doing so by making everyone come into the office isn't necessarily more efficient (side note: that's why they call them "workstations" at work, eh?)
Anyway, my point is that I think it's easy to forget how dramatically the internet has changed "our" lives. A few years ago you just couldn't communicate this quickly or access information this easily. I think it's an invention comparable to railways and telegraph in the 19th century.
Plus, it's so damn *easy* to get good porn for free!
How old is the boss? Many of you grew up with the computer, the boss may not have used one until rather recently. Tradition is more than a mind-set, it a way of life.
I used to think this was significant, but not anymore. Lately, my bosses are +/- 5 years of my own age (mid 30's to mid 40's). I suspect that the "whip" mentality is being taught in business schools as of late. It's all over the place... At the very least, it's a common thought process in the board rooms. They seem to want to control behavior so they can stay in control of things (versus having a subordinate control things... and getting credit for it too :roll: ) .
If you can be allowed to figure out a better way to do reports, or whatever "deliverables" your job requires, you can innovate and improve your own job process and timing. You could very well work your own boss out of a job. We can't have that now, can we?! In the mean time, the enterprise is leaning even more on Microsoft to tell us what we need in the workplace and pay loads of money for it also.
IMHO and experience; these are some of corporate mechanisms that are getting in the way of what Alan Kay is talking about. We're right back to the same corporate lockstep that Apple made fun of in their 1984 commercial for the first Macintosh; only we're marching with the PC's and Macs under our arms instead.