[LINK] Digital Ecosystem
peter at ratbags.com
Tue Mar 3 16:42:49 EST 2009
> On Tue, Mar 03, 2009, Roger Clarke wrote:
> > ><http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_ecosystem>
> > The number of times general systems theory gets re-discovered and
> > re-badged is remarkable.
> > We'd get further, faster and better if the world would actually
> > internalise its insights (under whichever name people like to use).
> > But I guess we're stuck with most people being unaware of it, some
> > people ignoring it, and hence its continual re-emergence, widespread
> > non-comprehension about it, and re-disappearance ...
> You mean, like all of the (re)discovered technologies surrounding
> virtualisation, language design, parallel processing, etc? :)
A few years back I was running the IT operation for a reasonably large
company and we had made the decision to go Unix. To get everyone working
on the same page I arranged for the entire IT staff, including me, to sit
in on a Unix course at a university which will not be named. Part of the
course consisted of lessons in "C" programming. When I asked why we needed
to know this, the lecturer replied: "Because Unix is written in C". I
thought of mentioning the words "non sequitur" but he probably would have
asked me which computers ran programs written in Latin.
At one stage he declared that C was the very first ever programming
language to incorporate data structures. I couldn't help but rise to the
bait so I put up my hand and said "COBOL had data structures. In fact it
was impossible to write any procedural code until at least a minimum of
data definition had been done".
He told me that I was wrong for the following reasons:
1. COBOL was an old, outdated language which nobody used any more. (This
was in 1987, when the majority of lines of source code in the world lived
inside COBOL programs.)
2. Because COBOL was old, it could not have contained anything as
sophisticated as data structures.
3. He didn't know it, so it could not be true.
4. He was a university lecturer and therefore knew more about computers
than anyone sitting in any classroom in front of him.
The university students in the room looked at me with a mixture of pity
and disdain. How dare I contradict the guru.
I loved the way that one of my underlings, obviously looking for a
favourable performance review, responded to the lecturer's last point by
saying just loud enough for everyone in the room to hear, something like:
"You should listen to our boss. He's usually right about things like
The Millenium Project - http://www.ratbags.com/rsoles
Australian Council Against Health Fraud - http://www.acahf.org.au
Australian Skeptics - http://www.skeptics.com.au
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