[linux-elitists] Re: GNOME > you

Jeremy Hankins nowan@nowan.org
Fri Jan 2 11:54:06 PST 2004

Ben Finney <ben@benfinney.id.au> writes:
> 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.

Wrong.  To the extent that office workers don't think about their
computers (and I think you're confused if you think they don't) it's
because they have no choices.  For most office workers computers are
every bit as relevant to their work as shoes are to the runner.

> 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.

So this distinction between essential and central (which, for the sake
of argument, I'll try to work with) is based on the psychology of the
individual?  What if he's wrong?

> 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
> regrettable.

Tongs aren't central to what a blacksmith does.  Hammers aren't central
to what a railroad layer does.  Shoes aren't central to what a runner
does.  They're all essential, though.  They're all important, and they
all determine, in part, how the work is done.  Just like computers for
most office workers.  The only person for whom shoes are central,
according to your definition, is the cobbler.

Jeremy Hankins <nowan@nowan.org>
PGP fingerprint: 748F 4D16 538E 75D6 8333  9E10 D212 B5ED 37D0 0A03

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