Sugar Labs @ NDSU

Building a smarter computing culture in Fargo, ND

Did the Personal Computer Make Us Stupid?


An interesting question, and an answer that invokes Alan Kay, and indirectly Sugar + Etoys. Answer provided by Susan Barnes at Rochester Institute of Technology and published in Figure / Ground.

That is an interesting question. When I started my research on Graphical User Interfaces (GUI), I did not know that Neil was a friend of Alan Kay, the developer of the (GUI). Neil invited Alan to speak at one of our conferences and I really got some insight into how the GUI was supposed to work. The original concept was to make the computer, including the programming, easy enough for a child to use. Kay believed that if the computer was going to be a primary medium of communication, then people should be able to read and write (programming) with it. But, Steve Jobs only saw the visual potential and not the programming. As a result, the Macintosh was a visual, not a verbal machine. So in a way the computer does make us stupid because we cannot easily program it. The computer is a medium of communication that is beyond the understanding of most people. The argument for this is that most of us do not understand cars either. However, a car is a mode of transportation, not communication. Now we have the widespread use of a communication technology that most people don’t know how to control or program. We depend upon the software written by companies. Therefore, embedded in computers is a commercial bias.

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This entry was posted on November 8, 2010 by in Etoys, Sugar.

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