Week 4 comments


The most interesting aspect of this week’s Winston chapters to me was that people looked to computers to be fortune tellers. Specifically, they wanted computers to calculate human and animal behavior. Things that humans had yet to figure out equations for – elections and horse race outcomes – were somehow to be figured out by a machine. Instead of seeing computers as a means of improving productivity and communication, the hope was for computers to be some sort of crystal ball.  Just seems illogical!

The only other part that sparked some sort of reaction for me was the idea of suppression. I suspect that the programmers themselves were in part responsible for the slow movement of computer development in the consumer arena. I’m sure the idea of a computer was even more frightening in the 1950s than they are now. Programmers were (and still are) viewed as part of an elite trade, as Postman put it in his "Informing Ourselves to Death" speech, and had protect their special status by creating a computing language to be feared. Typically, not the most social of folk, I would think it took time for programmers and scientists to look beyond the calculations and codes to see the full picture – that computers could be used as a form of exchanging information and improving productivity of things as simple as word processing.


Bart1_2 While reading this article about the acceleration of technological advancements in the last few centuries – especially over the last two decades – I thought a lot about how that acceleration may be due to the quick exchange of knowledge that is now available over the internet. At least for me, when I need inspiration, ideas, and/or quick advice, I jump on the Web. Within minutes I can usually find the information I need. No more pawing through the library or even picking up the phone – I just consult Google. If I don’t know the answer to a technical problem, I consult newsgroups. If the exact answer isn’t there, usually I can quickly collect clues that lead me there much faster than if I had to pick up the phone and speak with technical support or a consultant.

My point is, I think that acceleration of technology is directly correlated to the immediacy of information, ideas, advice and collaboration you can find on the internet. That is one of the greatest powers computing offers communication.

Heather King

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  • Alex  On 27 October 2005 at 11:43 pm

    I like your comment about using the web for inspiration. There is so much info out there, and more every day. Sometimes I consult Google for creative ideas in marketing and immediately skip ahead to page five or ten in the results for some variety.

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