August 6 was my birthday, and I am now 52 years old. I like to
mention it every so often just to kick a few stereotypes in their
behinds---middle-aged woman does Linux. A pretty average middle-age
woman: I have no piercings anywhere. No tattoos. No fanciful hair
colors or avant-garde styles held in place with pounds of goo; it's
been silver for years, wash-n-wear, and sometimes I cut it myself.
I'm a snappy dresser if you think old jeans and barn coats are
Using computers doesn't require any kind of special geek
talents, just study and a mind open to letting some actual
knowledge in. Anyone can learn anything, despite the anti-Linux FUD
that insists Linux is not ready for "the masses" because it's not
magically simple; these fictional moronic masses who exist only in
the mind of FUDsters and astroturfers. It's a shame to waste so
many electrons on such dumb stuff.
Obligatory disclaimers: of course we should continue to work at
improving computers and making them easier and friendlier to use.
But not at the expense of power and flexibility, or continually
inventing ever-more resistant, dimwitted mythical average users as
Change is Opportunity
High tech isn't going away. The industry is still in its infancy,
and it's going to be in a state of flux for the foreseeable future.
It takes some effort to keep up, but change means more
opportunities. What opportunities? A big one is the mom-and-pop
shop revival. The industrial revolution almost destroyed the
independent artisan and businessperson. The Internet and FOSS have
given them a second chance. One example is the independent bookshop
which now has the best of both worlds, both a welcoming, friendly
physical space, and access to any title in the world via the
Internet. Out here in the boonies is one of the world's leading
manufacturers of hunting bows and accessories. They have a
worldwide reach, and their physical location doesn't matter.
Another successful local business with a worldwide customer base
builds custom old-fashioned horse-drawn wagons. They're big sellers
in Japan, of all places. Computers have revolutionized photography
because photographers have better tools than ever for capturing,
editing, and publishing their work, at lower cost and without
stinky chemicals. I'm giving serious thought to self-publishing my
next book. Why not? The biggest hurdle is publicity and marketing;
the rest is just logistics.
And so, without wearying you fine readers with yet more
examples, the moral is obvious: sitting down and crying about how
computers are too hard, and they keep changing too much, and
everything should go back to the way it was is a waste of time.
There is a whole new world to explore thanks to tech and FOSS.
Linux and FOSS are key because without them we would never get past
the proprietary corporate gatekeepers. Just one more reason to be
thankful to all the great people who make Linux/FOSS possible.
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