A few years ago, I imagined naively that the presence of powerful computers and rich Internet facilities would improve society. Over the last decade or so, these devices have become as popular as TV, and people had the impression that this technology was enabling them to become smarter and indeed happier. Like would-be novelists, they could write anything that interested them, and show it instantly to readers. Alas, they failed to realize that they still had nothing much to say. Today, I’m starting to have my doubts. I feel at times that more and more ordinary people will move away from alleged “tools of the mind” and simply become run-of-the-mill users of gadgets for dummies.
A close-to-home affair convinced me that computers and the Internet would encounter problems when trying to get accepted in popular contexts. A friend told me she was looking into the problem of getting her domestic Internet installation improved. When she called upon a local specialist to look into the situation, she was shocked to find that he expected to be paid the same tarif as a local doctor called in to take care of a child with a cough. The lady found it outrageous that a computer fellow might imagine that he was dealing with more serious problems than the sickness of a child. In fact, her two sons were doctors, so she asked one of them to “fix up” her computer system… which he promptly did. In this way, her expenses were reduced to a minimum.
As far as I know, her computer is still working well… which proves that a good general practitioner can cure almost anything. Computers must never be thought of as more complicated than sick children.