March 06, 2004

Woman removes Windows(tm). Finds herself - "The Dumbing Down of Programming"

Another nugget from the past: "The Dumbing Down of Programming", by Ellen Ullman. This article from Salon Magazine was suggested to me by my friend Ron, back in 1998 when we were both working at TVI Interactive Systems.

At the time, I may have glanced at it, but I probably didn't read it. Here it is, six years later, and I must say, I really enjoyed reading it! (I'm also thrilled that the article is still available online after so many years. The web is typically such an impermanent space, that this kind of consistency is very satisfying.)

It's a fascinating look at the evolution of personal computer technology, as seen through the eyes of a female engineer as she strips away the layers of her Windows OS, de-evolving it down to it's BASIC brain core.

This article is a nice piece of engineering philosophy - a statement about our Microsoft-dominated computing culture, and the need for personal responsibility, choice and a sense of adventure. Back when this was written, Linux wasn't nearly as established and packaged as it is today, but the message of Ms. Ullman's article is still totally relevant: Windows, and Bill's vision of "easy-to-use" computing ain't all there is folks.

I wonder how she feels about the Mac?

No comments: