I ran across an interesting article that explores Why Desktop Linux Will Not Take off, and Why You Don't Want It to.
The basic point of the article is that making Linux suitable for the typical desktop will effectively destroy its value for geeks. I disagree with that: Macs have ease of use for technically challenged, but definitely appeal to geeks. Eye candy and easy interfaces don't detract from the BSD power underneath, and the same thing would be true for Linux. The real problem for Desktop Linux is the same issue that has always plagued Unix: market fragmentation.
But that's not what I wanted to discuss here. What I took exception to was the assertion about geek learning styles:
First and foremost, technological enthusiasts possess a skill that
is essential to the practice of their craft but is far beyond the
reach of mere mortals: they are
(link dead, sorry)
learners. The more you read on the topic, the better grasp
you will have of what follows. One consequence of this is that
visual complexity - or even visual clutter - does not scare them
away. It may even be impossible for them to understand why ordinary
folks feel overwhelmed by slightly complex user interfaces. The
truth is that most people cannot visually grasp the entire screen
at once, let alone an interface of fifty icons or user controls.
In order to be attractive to them, the interface needs to be dumbed
down to the average automated bank teller's level. Yes, they find
the simplicity attractive, not disconcerting or dull.
What's a visual-spatial learner? There's a
(link dead, sorry)
PDF file that purports to
tell you if you are.
I am somewhat that sort of learner. I don't like to listen,
and prefer to read, but that isn't because I forget what I hear: it's
that listening is too slow. I can read extremely fast, far
faster than anyone can speak intelligibly. I cannot visualize
objects from different perspectives, I'd rather follow WRITTEN
directions than read a map, I'm neither musically nor mechanically
skilled, I abhor bad spelling, speaking to groups never bothered
me a bit, and I feel dumber rather than smarter with each passing year.
But I would answer affirmatively to the other questions, and
I am definitely geekish in temperament.
There's another PDF that
(link dead, sorry)
lists characteristics of such learners: I don't
fit well with that, either. I do think in words, don't
relate well to space, can attend well to details, have no problems
with words, can PRINT quickly and neatly, have both good short term
and long term memory, am insensitive to anyone's attitudes when learning,
and so on. I'm still a geek in spite of that.
Personally I think there are two qualities all geeks and tech types share: logical thinking and a good memory. I'm also of the opinion that having a good memory is the key to both logical and creative thinking: you can't be logical if you can't remember the steps that brought you along, and you can't be creative if you can't recall old knowledge that can be applied in new ways.
So what do logic and memory have to do with geekiness? It's what LETS US BE GEEKS. If you can't remember things, and can't follow logic because of it, of course you won't be a geek: how could you be? You could be frighteningly intelligent in other ways, but you'll never make a good geek.
All that other stuff does have value, of course, but I don't think it necessarily has anything to do with geekiness. A visual-spatial learner can be a geek, but it isn't necessary.
So: Linux Desktop can succeed (as evidenced by geeks liking the new Macs) and geekiness isn't limited to certain learning styles.
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More Articles by Anthony Lawrence © 2012-07-11 Anthony Lawrence