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Re: Dangerous precedent being set - possible serious violation of the GPL

On Fri, Dec 10, 1999 at 02:51:37PM -0500, Caspian wrote:
> Not funny. That's the whole problem-- Unix hackers have, on a whole,
> been recognized by the Rest of the World as boorish and thoroughly
> unhelpful-- or, in a word, "rude". We shouldn't be that rude to
> others-- we shouldn't even be that rude to ourselves.

that's not quite true.

what is true is that we don't lie about the difficulty.

software companies want to sell product, and they want to sell product
to the masses because that's a way of making a lot of money. in order
to do this, they have to lie and say "any idiot can install and run
our software with no knowledge whatsoever"...and then they add some
chrome and window-dressing to their product to make that lie look
plausible at first glance. and it works - people buy their stuff.
mission accomplished.

however, we don't hesitate to say "yes, it can be hard. you'll have to
learn a lot of stuff, some of which will be complicated and difficult.
there are no easy answers, no magic wand - you've got to do some hard

not surprisingly, most people prefer the glitzy lie to our honesty
because it sounds a lot easier - they don't want to have understand
their computer, they just want it to perform it's magic; and they resent
the honest answer because they don't want to hear it, they want to
believe that anyone can operate an extremely complicated tool with no
understanding or knowledge or even training. in short, they want an
applicance, not a tool.

the trouble is that an applicance can't do what they want. computers are
"dumb", they need a knowledgeable and intelligent human mind driving
them in order to do anything useful.

so most end-users end up resenting (and being unwilling to admit) that
they were taken in by the advertising. they believed the lies, and
reality fell far short of expections...and nobody likes hearing "i told
you so" when they've just discovered that they were suckered.

the corollary to this is that while documentation is good and useful and
necessary, don't expect it to be of any help at all for the masses. it
will only help the small percentage who are capable of reading it...the
small percentage who could be bothered reading it. the rest won't read
it and don't want to read it, what they want is a magic cheat-sheet
which will make them an expert in half a page of 18pt type.

like i said, help those who can be helped and to hell with (i.e. ignore)
the rest.


craig sanders

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