Re: Cultural v. Technical Solutions [was Re: [ba-unrev-talk] Re: Just the facts.]
To interject... (01)
Actually I think the 'problem' revolves around the fact that people are people
and not machines. And as yet, most products that the computer hammer has
produced also have a tendency to hammer people into rectilinear molds too.
My point earlier is that most people aren't very logical, and almost all people
aren't logical all the time. More importantly people's lives don't run like
That's not to say that computers haven't produced some cool things - like email
and Adobe Photoshop.
But, imho, what those tools do very effectively on the whole is to totally avoid
treating the human zone of the activity as anything other than that - as
something wobbly and spontaneous, flexible, furious, curious, colourful, and
passionate, etc. (02)
It occurs to me that Doug's work rests on that interaction between the rigidly
functional box and the messy human.
The tendency at the moment is to hammer the person to act more like the box.
Business people like to think that that's the right way to think about it.
I personally wonder whether the gains are to be had in hammering the box out of
shape, at least insofar as it could help one with compensating for one's
messiness instead of just helping to [expletive] one's life up more. (03)
I recently had someone type my National Insurance No. (Social Security #) into a
form incorrectly. The damn system propagated it to about 50 other govt.
databases. Three months on and I'm still waiting for them to sort the mess out. (04)
----- Original Message -----
From: "Jack Park" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Sent: Monday, October 07, 2002 6:28 PM
Subject: Cultural v. Technical Solutions [was Re: [ba-unrev-talk] Re: Just the
> At 03:49 PM 10/6/2002 -0700, Gerald Pierce wrote:
> >Just notice, Jack, that you are speaking about technical solutions to a
> >cultural problem. Good ones, perhaps the best, but I fear that they will
> >make very little difference. I wish I had an answer. All that I can say
> >from my obervations is we seem to be looking for the solution in the
> >problem box.
> First, I confess I have trained fingers, quite used to talking about C.S.
> Peirce, so I have a problem (cultural, I suppose) with Pierce.
> Anyway, let me say that the "technical solutions to cultural problems"
> argument comes up often. I'd be greatly pleased to see more discourse on
> that theme. Unrev II, this list included, was (is) about cultural problems
> and technical solutions, so it's no wonder that, on occasion, someone
> notices that some discussions (this one, for instance) speaks about
> technical solutions to cultural problems. I have this hammer (my computer)
> and I see lots of nails out there. I suppose the devil makes me do that ;o)
> I suppose the discourse that provoked the statement above was about
> OpenOffice, WYSIWYG editors, and so forth. It's clear to me that OpenOffice
> is a completely inappropriate solution to problems associated with remote
> communities in developing nations. Indeed, the Hole In The Wall experiment
>  makes it clear that nothing more sophisticated than a simple touch pad
> with culturally relevant symbols is appropriate. However, recalling the
> earlier context of this thread, I think that Douglas Engelbart centered the
> theme, and his lack of success in securing a future for his vision was the
> topic; remote villages were not at stake.
> In the context of securing a future for the Engelbart vision, I think that
> the discussion has always been about his desire to mix technology with
> people. So, in that context, I'd like to understand more about why you
> (Gerald) think little difference will be made by applying technical
> solutions to cultural problems.
> XML Topic Maps: Creating and Using Topic Maps for the Web.
> Addison-Wesley, ISBN 0-201-74960-2.