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.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


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


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 952 other followers

%d bloggers like this: