Leading the Horses

Recovered from October 13, 2006 — thanks, Wayback Machine! (DVD? Is that like some medieval YouTube?)

Computer Education is one of the most useless endeavors known to man, up there with 17th century tulip speculation. I’m not referring to directed training courses on specific products; some people learn better in a classroom environment, and I’ve attended some extremely well-structured classes on the practical application of technical theories. Rather, I’m thinking of those “how to use a computer” classes that legions of administrative assistants, teachers, and unemployed construction workers are forced to sit through ever week of the year. “Join the Information Super Highway!” “Be A Part of The Computer Revolution!” “Earn Higher Wages In An Exciting Field!” “Learn Network Security In Ten Days!” “Get Your MCSE In Twelve Seconds Flat!”

Let’s get real. Some computers are tougher to use than others, but in general, anything with pretensions to desktop use is fairly straightforward. Honestly, sit a pre-teen geek down with a Windows XP, Mac OSX, or *nix/KDE desktop and they’ll figure out how to get to the Internet games and DVD player in ten minutes flat. Whether it’s a modern desktop or the antiques that the current generations of IT geeks learned on, computers reward exploration with knowledge; if you want to know how to use it, you will play with it and learn. If you really want to know how to use it, you won’t even be deterred by making a few accidents; much like someone learning to ride a bike, you’ll dust yourself off, cry over your lost money and data, then keep on going.

If you don’t want to learn, you’re not going to, and no class, technology, or tool is going to change that until someone’s able to mug you with an RNA injection (a la The Matrix or A World Out Of Time). Furthermore, at this point in time I’d say that anyone who is lacking computer basics is either economically unable to participate or is firmly in the camp of people who don’t want to know. All the former really need is time, hardware, and bandwidth; all the latter need is something to do for a living that doesn’t have anything to do with computers.

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