walkitout (walkitout) wrote,

once upon a time, when I was a comp sci student

Before I was accepted into the department, I had to take a couple introductory comp sci courses, taught by a lecturer who had quite the reputation. He was actually really good at his job (which was conveying a substantial body of knowledge to the kiddies, and weeding out most of them in the process), altho he definitely had a unique(ly annoying) sense of humor and approach to his task.

In any event, one of his standard rants was about programmers, how many of them currently existed, how there were all these people writing about how we were going to need so incredibly many more of them every year and blah, blah, bleeping, blah. Remember, he was supposed to be weeding out a lot of people who wanted to get in on this lucrative opportunity. His rant went something like this:

Once upon a time, if you wanted to make a telephone call, you picked up the phone and told the operator, who was basically waiting there to talk to you, who you wanted to talk to. The operator connected you. As telephone service became more and more common, more and more telephone operators were needed. If you had done the math then like the math currently (back then, of course, not in 2009) about how many programmers we will need, only for telephone operators, just about everyone would need to be a telephone operator in order to meet demand.

And, indeed, we are all telephone operators, when we press the buttons on our phones to make a phone call.

In the future, he went on, most computers will not look like computers. They'll be in our appliances, we'll wear them, we won't think of them as computers -- and we won't think of ourselves as programmers, even when we are engaged in programming like tasks. I'm sure every time he has to help a family member figure out how to filter e-mail, he remembers all the kiddies he inflicted this little rant on. I can only imagine his reaction to helping grandma google something, much less when his dad is struggling with a navigator.

Whenever I see stuff about the kindle, netbooks (oh, gosh, am I supposed to TM that for those fuckers over at Psion? Gee whiz, sorry about that.), cell phones and blah, blah, bleeping blah, I remember that lecturer.

Thanks a lot.
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