[linux-elitists] Re: GNOME > you

Ben Finney ben@benfinney.id.au
Thu Jan 1 15:32:26 PST 2004

On 01-Jan-2004, Jeremy Hankins wrote:
> Outside of the computer field people care deeply about the tools they
> use to get their work done.

That depends very much whether the person thinks of the job done with a
computer as central to their work (for whatever definition of work) or
whether they think of it as an annoying side-task best disposed of as
quickly and painlessly as possible.

Most office work and office equipment, for most office workers, falls
into the latter category.  The computer is no more a topic of "pros and
cons of the tool" discussions than is a pencil or telephone.

In most places where a "desktop computer" is used, it's not a
conceptually central part of the work, in the way of a blacksmith's need
to hit metal or a runner's need to contact the pavement.  Rather, it's
symbolic of a chore -- organising and transmitting information -- that
gets in the way of whatever one thinks of as the *real* job.

A salesperson or receptionist may think of a telephone as both essential
and central to their task, and may be interested in discussing the pros
and cons with interest.  An accountant or graphic designer, on the other
hand, likely thinks of the telephone as essential (can't do the job
without it) but not *central* (inseperable from the job itself).  In the
latter case, a discussion about telephone technology will likely meet
with far less enthusiasm.

I propose that computers are central to people who describe their jobs
to their friends as "I work with computers", but for all other office
jobs (which do, in fact, work with computers also) the computer is about
as conceptually central as a pencil, and consequently is cared about
only to the extent that it impedes one's job.  The fact that it's
essential is, in this view, an historical accident and somewhat

(Discussions about the death of craftsmanship leading to the decline in
enthusiasm for quality of work or tools, deferred.)

 \         "Broken promises don't upset me. I just think, why did they |
  `\                                      believe me?"  -- Jack Handey |
_o__)                                                                  |
Ben Finney <ben@benfinney.id.au>
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