The death of expertise is a rejection not only of knowledge, but of the ways in which we gain knowledge and learn about things. Fundamentally, it’s a rejection of science and rationality, which are the foundations of Western civilization itself. Yes, I said “Western civilization”: that paternalistic, racist, ethnocentric approach to knowledge that created the nuclear bomb, the Edsel, and New Coke, but which also keeps diabetics alive, lands mammoth airliners in the dark, and writes documents like the Charter of the United Nations.
The Federalist: The Death of Expertise
About a year ago, I took a class that explored a number of issues related to this very topic, and I look forward to taking a similar class next year.
Quark’s demise is truly the stuff of legend. In fact, the story reads like the fall of any empire: failed battles, growing discontent among the overtaxed masses, hungry and energized foes, hubris, greed, and… uh, CMYK PDFs. What did QuarkXPress do—or fail to do—that saw its complete dominance of desktop publishing wither in less than a decade? In short, it didn’t listen.
ars technica: How QuarkXPress became a mere afterthought in publishing
Much of what happened to Quark and Microsoft is now happening with Adobe. I am increasingly seeing criticism of Adobe’s painfully high prices for questionable updates (primitive 3D objects in Photoshop? Why?). The difference this time, however, is that there is no alternative on the horizon. If I recall correctly, InDesign was rumored for quite a while before release. Even if InDesign ended up being vaporware, the enthusiasm was palpable but Quark appeared to simply not give a shit what anyone had to say; Quark’s hubris was just astounding. Today, Adobe has deaf ears if only because they have no compelling reason to listen.
“We are thinking about a new business structure,” Iwata told the press, according to a Bloomberg News report. “Given the expansion of smart devices, we are naturally studying how smart devices can be used to grow the game-player business. It’s not as simple as enabling Mario to move on a smartphone.”
“We cannot continue a business without winning,” he continued. “We must take a skeptical approach [to] whether we can still simply make game players, offer them in the same way as in the past for 20,000 yen or 30,000 yen, and sell titles for a couple of thousand yen each.”
Ars Technica: Nintendo president hints at exploring smartphone gaming support
I’m willing to bet dollars to donuts that Nintendo has some skunkworks deep in the heart of headquarters where Mario, Zelda, and their colleagues are running freely on iOS and Android, if not also on desktops, waiting and figuring out the best way to roll it out. This would be just like the rumor I had read ages ago that Apple has most incarnations of Mac OS running on Intel chips the entire time they were manufacturing with PowerPC chips. To see the benefit of doing so is not hard.
If Zelda came to iOS I would snap that up in a second. My Wii has barely been touched since I started school, there have been three new consoles since I started, and I still have a long way to go. I really hope they are moving in this direction, though I can also understand the hesitancy of handing over 30% of revenue to Apple.
What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumble puppy.
onthepathofknowledge.wordpress.com: Amusing ourselves to death
Two of my favorite books together in one. It’s like a literary peanut butter cup. I haven’t read this book, but I am going to add it to my list based on this quote alone.
The carpenter understands the value of something he works with every day, and that’s why he spends so much money on the hammer. But he also understands that value is a double-edged sword: he’s committing to the product he knows, that is reliable.
Studies in Semicolons: The Parable of the Carpenter
Replacing the subject of the punchline with other tools in which I have invested makes this parable applicable to more areas than I care to think about. Interestingly enough, Microsoft Office is not one of them.
I would like to thank Hewlett-Packard and their LaserJet line of printers, particularly the M1217nfw, for reminding me why I have gone all but entirely paperless, leaving what little paper I utilize left as not being generated by myself.
I am not stupid but troubleshooting anything on this pile of plastic crap makes me feel that way. Trying to get their printer to work with Mac OS 10.9 Mavericks has been a pointless exercise in petty frustration. This used to be easy: download a zip file, unzip, install, plug in the printer, and boom! Printing. Instead, they wholly rely on Apple to distribute drivers—there is no direct link to an archive to be found anywhere; the printer’s internal webpage does a spectacular job confounding even the most advanced of browsers; none of the instructions on their support page actually matches reality. It’s almost as if the people writing the software, those writing the documentation, and those building the support pages don’t actually talk to each other. Nothing has ever worked as advertised with this printer. The only computer I can get to talk to this printer is a six year old MacBook, and that’s when it is plugged in via USB. I am better off having all my documents on my phone or tablet at this point. What a waste of money. Forget going paperless to be green; I’ll just go paperless out of spite.
UPDATE: After looking into this further, part of my problem appears to be that in trying to acquire the software for my work laptop I see that my company’s IT department redirects (nay, hijacks) the Software Update URL to an internal server. But this redirect is known to be buggy in Mavericks so the URL fails (in fact the address cannot be resolved at all so something else is going on. A support ticket has been submitted). I’m still trying to sort out how to get around this and just go direct to Apple, though it would appear that despite my resetting the URL in defaults, I will need to go to my IT department for a fix. But I don’t blame my IT department. My angst is still pointed to HP for not giving links to their drivers and instead simply telling people to go to Apple. Not giving people a back up plan is lame.
All I want to do is print two (2!) lousy pieces of paper, and here is one hell of a mess trying to do just that.
Going back to the Grossman Library in Sever Hall to study for finals is like going back to Mighty Mick’s Boxing Gym.