Thursday, May 30, 2013

Where is the geek going to go?

A few weeks ago I was prepping to teach about one of my all-time favorite programs: Excel! Well not Excel specifically, but spreadsheets.  I cut my teeth in the computing world on a Program called Twin which was literally a 'twin' of Lotus 1-2-3, which of course was borrowed largely from VisiCalc which was the first Spreadsheet software ever.

Well I was looking for a video clip from the exceptional series "Triumph of the Nerds" Bob Cringely shares some time with the inventors of the spreadsheets.  I bumped into the clip I was wanting to use and one of the folks made some comments about it that I felt I needed to respond to:

It made me think a bit.  When I was a kid I coded for fun.  I would sit in my basement and I will admit, I spent hours playing games others had built.  But I also tinkered.  I programmed in basic and even created my own Menu Systems for games I had on 5.25" (truly) floppy disks.  It makes me wonder a bit about where the tinkerers are tinkering now?  There isn't a standard free language that is packaged with computers now.  iPads don't come with the "how to crack this" book.  Old computers did.  You had to program them.  Computers of today are becoming a bit like the TV.  They are a consumer product you buy and use until you need a new one.  Luckily there are options for upgrades and recycling, but still it isn't a tinkerers world anymore.  But as I mentioned in my comments above. It's the geeks and tinkerers that help change the world.  Steve Wozniak was a supreme tinkerer.  What if he had been told NO! you must play by these rules and can only do these things with your electronics.  

This is why I am seriously thinking about building a Linux computer with my sons.  Just so we can tinker!  What do you think where are people tinkering today?

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