Watching The Next Generation Utilizing Today's Technologies: Part II


Read Part I of this article here

Least We Be Gods

As we watch little Johnnie and Suzie divine from the devices at hand whatever they

are attempting to accomplish at the moment, we must realize that the majority of their actions are centered around navigation with the occasional "action" of Play or Attach or Send and so on. But I only mean to diminish such accomplishments in this light. If a caveman were to observe a human from our time utilizing a doorknob, such an activity would seem quite amazing. And let's now even dive into the shock of automatic doors jumping out of the way as one of us enters a supermarket! Certainly, to the eyes of our caveman, the human with the ability to manipulate a doorknob or command vast doors out of one's way would certainly be a god! But just out of view sits another observer. The builder that carved and hung the door, applied the hinges, and installed the doorknob. Perhaps the observer is the one that designed the technology that controls the sliding and timing of the supermarket doors. No matter how much in command today's human may seem to the caveman, the person that had a hand in the design and implementation has a real understanding of what is going on.

The door and doorknob represent a user interface. The same goes for the electronic eye and motors controlling the supermarket door. Even websites, databases, and complete applications for our phones and tablets (apps) are being "built" through the means of User Interfaces - UIs for short. And there is the real problem. UI on top of UI on top of UI. Before long, all originality is forgotten and new concepts for development become nothing more than a dream. The real control of all of these devices - from our personal computers to the extremely powerful phones in the palm of our hands - still resides at the level of understand - and writing - source code.

I watched a kid on YouTube dragging an image into place and selecting a background for the box the image was placed in. The teacher had the audacity to suggest that her class was Advanced Computer Skills with Web Design as part of the final stage of learning. They were all using a particular brand of user interface knows as WYSIWYG (wiz-see-wig - What You See Is What you Get). All of that is fine and dandy, but it was quite apparent that not a one of them - least of which the teacher - could have bolded, underlined, or italicized a word in HTML to save their lives! Perhaps the saddest part is that the age range for this class was 12 to 14 years old.

What REALLY Drew That Box?

Looking back at what those of us that started out in "the days of DOS" went through and the struggles of learning one language, only to move on to the next and the next, I can only see it for what it truly was - a rite of passage. Our accomplishments were a direct result of commitment and a genuine desire to learn more. For most of us, it was the first time in our respective lives that we could truly control something - even if in the beginning it were only characters on a monochrome screen. Fortunately for us, those characters, and how they were arranged, would become important to businesses in almost every market one could imagine.

So, given such a history, I am forced to ask the question, "What is it that little Johnnie and Suzie are doing?" Furthermore, what command and control do they really have of the devices we now decorate our lives with? Where is the commitment past the built in limitations of the user interfaces? Where is the genuine desire to learn more?

I know this seems like a nasty thought, but if you really want to help a kid into a far brighter future than that of a cubicle or over glorified tele-commuter, the next phone or tablet you get for them - brick it first! And if little Johnnie or Suzie has the where-with-all to get it back to working order - perhaps even better than it did the day it was purchased - then they will be on the path to truly deserving all the praise their well-meaning ancestors can toss their way!