Kids don’t understand command line interfaces and this isn’t a problem

Marc Scott says “Kids Can’t Use Computers… And This Is Why It Should Worry You“:

Mobile has killed technical competence. We now all carry around computers that pretend to be mobile phones or tablets. Most people don’t even think of their phone as a computer. It’s a device to get quick and easy access to Google. It’s a device that allows us to take photos and post them to Facebook. It’s a device that allows us to play games and post our scores to Twitter. It’s a device that locks away the file system (or hides it from us). It’s a device that only allows installation of sanitised apps through a regulated app store. It’s a device whose hardware can’t be upgraded or replaced and will be obsolete in a year or two. It’s a device that’s as much a general purpose computer as the Fisher Price toy I had when I was three.

The central idea of this article is that people who don’t understand exactly how a computer functions and can’t fix it themselves are morons who all grew up with GUIs that abstract ideas to the point where the Internet Explorer icon is The Internet.

All of the anecdotal evidence provided as to why this is such a bad thing are wildly incorrect.

Yes, some people don’t understand how to turn their computer monitors on or flip the wi-fi switch on the laptop so that they can browse the web. That isn’t a failing of their teaching so much as it is a failing of the software and hardware.

13 years ago I was a hardcore Linux nerd full of disdain for anyone that couldn’t fix their own computer. Today we have computers in our pockets that are more useful and easier to use than the computers I’ve owned most of my life. I can learn German and hook up my guitar to my pocket computer that also makes calls. This is an awesome thing that hardcore nerds love to ridicule.

Marc Scott’s advice for fixing this non-problem is that parents should force their children to learn a scripting language to find the wifi password from a list of possibilities; Windows and Mac users should install Linux; and Mobile users should get Ubuntu for phones.

Installing Linux next to or on top of Windows or OS X only teaches users something because Linux won’t do what they want. Yes, they’ll be forced to use the command line to get their printer, sound, 3D accelerated rendering or power management working properly. When that doesn’t work all they will have learned is that Linux sucks and they should never have installed it. When they can’t boot back to Windows because Grub trashed the boot loader they will just go back to Candy Crush on their phones.

These solutions are all ridiculous. That computers, and iOS in particular, are easy to use is not a problem that needs solving. Unintuitive software that doesn’t do what users want and grumpy old people like us who refuse to change are the problem. Devices should be easy to use and perform the functions that people expect. Nobody should be forced to learn a command-line to use their computer.