Saturday, January 22, 2005

I thought this from an author with a literary background who just finished a new book on Linux was interesting.

I'm a programmer or technician only by amateur or theoretical inquiry, not by trade. My background is literature and philosophy, which has brought the advantage of perspective. The secret that most people don't seem to know, because of what our culture has become in recent decades, is the fundamental idea that computer software is not, strictly speaking, technology at all. A program is just a literary work; it's a kind of technical literature. I talk about this in the introduction.

Forty years ago the United States was the greatest producer society in the world. What happened in that interval and how does it relate to Linux? Part of that transformative shift was the adoption of the view that computer programs were objects that you bought at the store, that they were somehow new "technology" to bank on. This obscured what they really were - written works to be published and examined and read, as well as performed by the hardware. When you remove that from the culture and only sell it as a sealed object in the box, you have a fairy-tale economy and a culture that is sliding into irrelevance, decadence, and decay. Linux is a return to the old tradition, to the individual inventor-scientist and industrial entrepreneur as the productive member of an educated populace. That's what so exciting about it.

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