“I think the shift to the cloud will happen at such a rapid rate, that in just a few years I predict there will be no more code on your local computer.”, GitHub CEO


@neauoire Chromebooks are already there. I am shocked/concerned after learning from my teacher friends how chromebooks are the primary computer used in US schools at all levels


@neauoire @aw Chromebooks actually rule. You can drop into real Linux and do whatever you want with just a few clicks. And if you totally screw it up, you can reset it easily.

@cancel @neauoire @aw except that's not how people generally use them. Chromebools teach kids that computers are merely a terminal to corporate controlled Internet. Imagine trying to explain to someone who has only ever used Google Docs how to use vi or even libre office. In a consumer cloud context free software is barely comprehendable. I'd seriously rather schools still had Apple II's

@Natris1979 @neauoire @aw I dunno, in some of the places I frequent online, they're clogged with kids aged like 10-14 using Chromebooks in Linux mode, asking for help with compilers, text editors, data formats

@xjix @neauoire @aw @Natris1979 it could be a LOT worse, at least for this particular niche

@cancel @Natris1979 @neauoire @aw at least, as one of the people that tend to be the youngest in many such places, i'm glad to hear that at least i'm just not a mere echo of a dying breed

@n0toose @cancel @Natris1979 @neauoire @aw
People have been saying "kids these days" for the last few decades. Things will remain mostly the same: a small percentage of the population will be hackers or get some level of familiarity with computers. The others will be forced to use them and suffer through it. As long as we don't have computer training in schools and expect people magically become "digital natives"

@pulkomandy @cancel @Natris1979 @neauoire @aw the push for making personal computing a subscription-based service where you are being held by the hand has been there as well...

but to be honest, one of the """first""" iterations like the android/play services thing also saw people [like me and friends of mine] rooting their phones, flashing custom recoveries and such

@n0toose @cancel @Natris1979 @neauoire @aw these things come in cycles and alternate between dumb terminals with easy-to-administrate centralized server, and smarter computers on the edge of the network with smaller, cheaper servers. We've been through 3 cycles of this since the 70s I think. And a lot of the "hacker culture" things were developed with dumb terminals connected to a central university-owned computer

Indeed. Most people don’t want to know how a computer works. They want an tablet to do something or other.

Like cars. Very few people want to work on cars, but most people need to use a car.

The minority who want to figure computers out will figure computers out, and that’s always been a minority of the populace.

@n0toose @cancel @Natris1979 @neauoire @aw

@jollyrogue cars are not the model, for me: bicycles are. it's much easier for a layperson to do basic maintenance on a bike than a car, and most bicycle owners do, to some extent

@jollyrogue most people "work with computers", but using incredibly poor and confusing interfaces. they develop weak mental models of the underlying system, and as a result, become frustrated

@aw I agree, interfaces can be bad, and some interfaces make more sense to different people. For instance, I happen to like Gnome 3, and I dislike the windows 95 style interfaces.

Most people don’t want to know anything about the underlying system. People having to think about the underlying system is a bad design.

@jollyrogue it's impossible not to think about the underlying system. you can try and hide it, but it will leak to users in unexpected ways, and if the underlying system is incomprehensible, users will be at a total loss

@aw Do you care what the transmission or engine in your car is doing at any given moment as long as it’s working?

@aw Perfect. So no you don’t care in any way shape or form. If you take a bus, train, plane, ride in a car, the operation of the vehicle doesn’t matter in the slightest. The destination is the only thing that matters. It’s someone else’s job to think about the traffic, fuel levels, tire pressure, and whatever else is necessary to transport the people onboard to their destinations.

@jollyrogue there is a big difference between a train/bus (public infrastructure) vs a car (a tool you personally own). I don't have any problem with trains being specialized and professionalized, because they are public infrastructure. the point is that the relationships with the institutions that produce tools matters, and making your use of a tool dependent on a single, for-profit entity that doesn't have any incentive to act in the public interest is bad.

@aw People want to get from point A to point B. They don’t particularly care how that happens.

They want to get things done rather the revel in the minutia.

@jollyrogue Technology is not something that just exists in isolation. The way in which people get from point A to point B is a highly contentious, political question.

@aw That’s the thing. Bicycles, like tech, are a very specific niche which enjoys getting into the details. Opening bicycles to a wider market would create a market for dumb bikes which would be sealed appliances that would need to be serviced by people with very specialized knowledge and tools.

At one point cars required quite a bit of knowledge to operate, but we’ve abstracted away the details in order to make cars more approachable and easier to operate.

Same thing with anything. The more mainstream something gets the more the edges are smoothed down to appeal to more people. There are still niches for those who want to tinker, but the tinkers are a small minority who shouldn’t confuse their desires with the needs/wants of the larger populace.

@jollyrogue I would not describe bicycles as a "niche" product. they are extremely common and popular, especially in major cities.

the pressure to make dumb products that require specialized knowledge to service comes entirely from the interests of companies making a profit, not consumers.

It's not about tinkering for fun, it's about de-professionalizing the knowledge required to interact with a tool.

@Natris1979 @cancel @neauoire @aw Software becoming invisible infrastructure is not a bad thing. That's what allows people to concentrate on what they care about. But public infrastructure needs to be under democratic oversight in a democratic society.

As for schools, there's a difference between "using computing in schools" and "teaching how computing works". For the second use case, an Apple II would indeed be great.


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@amsomniac yeah I mean I don't disagree, but it's not really relevant to what I was talking about.

@cancel I mean, the "no more code on your local computer" thing doesn't even make sense, but I think it makes sense to bring up limitations like this when talking abt whether chromebooks rule. while they might well rule, the ipad model sucks

@amsomniac it's not fundamentally different than windows or mac. the OS eventually drops support for old hardware. google just does it too aggressively, famously. even linux drops support for old stuff, eventually.

@amsomniac if your chromebook is locked so that you can't run linux on it on your own, though, then yeah, that's a different story

@cancel didn't mean to get all https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EEs7Bu9c2GI on ya. true can't maintain old hw forever & sometimes new stuff uses less power. gonna take capitalism ending to produce anything ethically esp computer

@cancel @amsomniac Linux drops support for hardware when nobody is maintaining the code for it, not just because it's old.

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