Date: Tue, 5 Sep 1995 08:32:05 -0400


Subject: Re: secret codes

Terry Lynn Irons recently wrote:

If we don't understand uuencoding and the other things that new technologies

allow us to do, do we really have any right to say that the NEH should

give us money?

Increasingingly I find technology being used by humans who are not in control

of it and it scares me. I don't know why, but I still think the people

using the machines should be smarter than the machines.

That's quite a leap in logic. Since when is computer programming part of

the humanities? Must we pass a computer skills test as part of the grant

application process now? My instincts tell me that technology has always

been used by humans who are not in control of it: from the bow and arrow

to the musket to the "smart bomb." I have some idea how the air

conditioner cooling my office works, but I couldn't take it apart and fix

it if it broke. It has only been a few years since I was dragged into

using the device that is sending this mail, and I resist getting too deeply

caught in its web (world-wide or otherwise). I don't necessarily believe I

have to be "machine smart" to be an effective teacher or to make fair use

of a computer. I'm certainly no language chauvinist when it comes to a

computer code being sent to me as a message, but I do believe in an

audience-centered communication process and that one missed the mark for