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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 110Foundations of Information Technology

Professor Jeff Nyhoff

Department of Computer Science

Fall 2006

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“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” ?

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    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…”

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    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…


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    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” …

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    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…

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    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…

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    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.

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    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.

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    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…

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    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.

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    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”…

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    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…

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    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…

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    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!

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    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.

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    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.

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    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 .