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IDIS 110 Foundations of Information Technology. Professor Jeff Nyhoff Department of Computer Science Fall 2006. Super Bowl Commercial, 1984. “Why 1984 won’t be like 1984 ” . 1981 : IBM released the IBM “ PC ” – a “ personal computer ” You could have your OWN computer !

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IDIS 110 Foundations of Information Technology

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idis 110 foundations of information technology

IDIS 110Foundations of Information Technology

Professor Jeff Nyhoff

Department of Computer Science

Fall 2006

why 1984 won t be like 1984
“Why 1984 won’t be like 1984 ”
  • 1981: IBM released the IBM “PC” – a “personal computer”
      • You could have your OWN computer !
  • However, computer “users” had always been programmers
      • Write your own software…
  • Managing the computer requires interacting with itsoperating system

IBM PC’s operating system: Microsoft’s DOS

“command line interface”

- cryptic commands

This is “personal computing” ?

1984 the macintosh gui
1984: The Macintosh “GUI”

“GUI” = “Graphical User Interface”

- “point and click”

Then: Now:

Steve Jobs, Apple Co-Founder:“a computer for the rest of us…”

where did apple get the idea
Where Did Apple Get the Idea?


  • In 1979, Steve Jobs had visited Xerox Corp’sPalo Alto Research Center (PARC)
  • Saw a demo of a GUI developed by a team led by Alan Kay that was working to develop Kay’s “Dynabook” idea:
    • a personal computer, owned an operated by an individual;
    • portable – the size of a notebook;
    • Connects wirelessly to networks enabling communication and access to information;
    • with a GUI so intuitive that even children could not onlyuse its software, but even start developing software of their own…


xerox corp s big mistake
Xerox Corp’s Big Mistake…
  • Xerox Corporation’s executives couldn’t foresee a market for a “personal computer.”They cancelled Kay’s project.
  • Steve Jobs, however, had seen the future of computing in that 1979 Xerox PARC demo:
    • “within ten minutes…it was obvious to me that all computers would work like this some day.”
  • Jobs immediately began working with an Apple team to try to create a GUI-driven computer.
    • By 1984, Apple had developed the “Macintosh” …
microsoft windows
Microsoft Windows
  • A year later, in 1985, Microsoft released its own GUI operating system: “Windows”
    • 1985: Windows 1.0 : very poor
    • 1987: Windows 2.0: a bit better…
  • 1988: Apple files lawsuit claiming violations of copyright
    • argued Microsoft had copied the “look and feel” of the Apple GUI
    • Suit took nearly 5 years to decide. Overall, Apple lost…
    • In the meantime, Windows 3.0 had become a viable OS…
  • The “GUI” has revolutionized computing
      • Although, it is now Microsoft Windows that dominates…
      • The “person” implied in “personal computing” is no longer a computer programmer
      • Persons from all walks of life came to use computers…
now over 20 years later
Now, Over 20 Years Later…
  • Persons like yourselves have literally “grown up”with GUI-driven personal computers...
    • Common remark:

“Most of today’s college students have had so much experience using computers that a course like this is a waste of time…”

  • So, why does Calvin bother to continue offering this course?
    • And why are so many other colleges & universities scrambling to introduce similar kinds of information technology courses of their own…?
  • Here’s one way of getting at this question…
alan kay again
Alan Kay (again) :
    • Often called “the father of the personal computer.”
    • Kay says, “the computer revolution still hasn’t happened yet.”
  • For Kay, the “Dynabook” dream remains unrealized:
    • He envisioned the computer as a new medium that would enable powerful new ways to create and communicate ideas.
    • For the most part, we are simply doing the same things with computers that we did with analog media – print, television, radio, etc.
    • We do not use computers in the ways that reveal their unique powerto create working models – simulations – of ideas.
    • Instead, we simply perform severely limited interactions with software models created by others.
    • Thus, Kay says that the last twenty years of GUI-driven “personal computing” have been the equivalent of “air guitar.”
      • not “computer literacy” ; rather, the equivalent of merely knowing how to hold a book and turn pages.
enfeebled by the gui not empowered
Enfeebled by the GUI –not Empowered…
  • The original GUI idea was to spare the user from having to
    • interact with the computer’s underlying “machinery”
    • use cryptic terminologies of traditional programming languages.
  • However, the commercial version of the GUI produced by Apple and Microsoft also produced the idea of the “end user”:
    • computer users are no longer programmers; they are now only consumers, who appear only at the end of the process, after the software is already produced by someone else.
    • Such users believe they do not need to move beyond a superficial understanding of computing.
    • Instead, they remain in a state of arrested development, interacting with onscreen illusions that :
      • they did not create;
      • teach them nothing about the realities of the technologies they are using.
the gui s end users
The GUI’s End Users
  • are severely limited in ability to learn about information technology (IT) ;
  • are overly dependent upon IT and IT “experts” ;
  • regard IT with an uncritical “awe” ;
  • are the most harmed when IT systems fail ;
  • are easy targets for exploitations and attacks via IT;
  • are unaware of the hidden systems at work behind the surface illusions:
    • As the Wizard of Oz commanded, “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!”
    • Such hidden systems monitor and control our actions, and shape our thinking…
end user denial
End User Denial…
  • Not surprisingly, one of the most common traits of the end user experience is that of anxiety where technology is concerned.
  • Interestingly, the technological culture produced by the GUIis such that the vast majority of end users tend to greatly exaggerate their knowledge of information technology, toward one of two poles:
    • they drastically underestimate what they know about IT – e.g., describe themselves as “computer illiterate,” etc., or
    • They grossly overstate what they know about IT, falsely claiming:
      • that they already know all they need to know about IT;
      • that they figured most of this out on their own;
      • that only computer illiterates need IT instruction.
academic responses
Academic Responses
  • Consequently, a rapidly rising number of colleges & universities are currently scrambling to introduce new kinds of information technology courses to make sure students:
    • not only know how to “do things” with IT
    • but also have more solid understanding of IT
    • And develop new way of thinking about IT .
  • Fortunately, Calvin was “ahead of the game”…
calvin s new core
Calvin’s New “Core”
  • In the Fall of 2001, Calvin implemented a new “Core Curriculum”
    • the college’s new vision of its goals for a “liberal arts” education
  • Overall goal of the Core: provide students with opportunities to develop coreknowledge, skills, and virtues.
  • Including those knowledge, skills, and virtues related to information technology
  • Thus, for the first time, a course in computing would be required for all Calvin students…
idis 110 and skills
IDIS 110 and “Skills”
  • IT “skills”

= the ability to employ computer technology

  • An ever-widening set of IT skills are becoming necessary for life in today’s world.
  • You’ll get plenty of skills in IDIS 110 …

but IDIS 110 is not just a computer skills course…

idis 110 and knowledge
IDIS 110 and “Knowledge”
  • A littleknowledge of what computers really are and how they do what they dogreatly strengthens our relationship to IT :
    • What to think and how to respond when computers suddenly don’t work they way we expect them to.
    • Why and how to take reasonable, preventative action to protect our work, our equipment, and our privacy.
    • Whole new categories of computer skills open up to us!
idis 110 and virtues
IDIS 110 and “Virtues”
  • True knowledge about computers also enables us to start asking new and better kinds of questions about them:
    • We begin to dare to ask what these technologiesshould and should not do.
    • Breaks the habit of viewing ourselves as mere recipients of what computer industry chooses to produce for us.
    • Increases our expectations of societal control over IT.
it virtues and your future
IT Virtues and Your Future
  • We begin cultivating technology-minded virtues in ourselves…
  • Difficult technology-driven questions now confront

employers, administrators, government officials, ministers, teachers, school-board members, parents, …

  • In the “information age,” IT virtue is an integral part of our responsibility
    • to our families, congregations, communities, congregations, fellow citizens
    • as stewards of the world that God created.
idis 110
IDIS 110
  • “Foundations of Information Technology”
  • IT skills, knowledge, and virtues that can benefit you while you are in college .
  • But also lay the foundation for continuing,lifelong development of your relationship to IT .