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Mike Aragona - Freelance Writer / Editor

The Last Word

Enter The Borg — (December 2002) Forgive me for "geeking" a moment here, but I have thoughts I want to put out.

I just finished a "Proficient User" course on Microsoft FrontPage 2000. Applications like this just make me shake my head. See, I'm a DOS man from way back. I always hated how Microsoft created products which basically do everything for a user. I never liked Windows telling me what defaults MY computer should have and how MY system should be configured. With Dos, I was able to control every aspect I wanted. Up until even Windows 98 I still tweak my system with external tools the way I want it to be. These are the same reasons I prefer WordPerfect to Word. Show me the code so I can tinker with it. It's like Visual Basic. I can't believe how Microsoft hired programmers to basically CREATE a new Programming Language which, in effect, made Programmers OBSOLETE. Anyone can build programs with it. You don't even have to understand things like Logic or Program Flow. What's my problem with this? Mainly that it feels like part of the "dumbing down" of the next generation. We (programmers and computer folks specifically) understood the tools we had to work with. We knew what our code did; how and why. Nowadays, many programmers don't really understand the reasonings behind things, they just know which buttons they have to click in order to get a screen they want. How soon will computers control US instead of the other way around?

Anyhow, I'm getting a little off-track here. Back to Web Designing.

When HTML came around, I worked directly with the code using either Notepad or Arachnophilia. I labored over things like frames and tables, attempting to UNDERSTAND what I was coding. Then comes FrontPage. This bloody thing lets just anyone build a web site with tons of bells and whistles. Upon starting the course, I immediately realized how some folks were able to put together certain pages and why it was so difficult for them to understand concepts like Layout and Design. You don't have to visually think about your pages when you're using Themes. At least now I realize where my gut instincts on pages I didn't like came from. I also, now, realize that to make things easier for myself in terms of keeping a handle on my own pages, I have no choice but to turn to this product or something similar. I'm glad, however, that I, at least, have a clear understanding of the tools I'm working with and what they do. I much prefer that to simple blind faith (or ignorance).

Am I too stubborn? Not at all. I embrace technology and all it brings us. I'm simply saying that we should not lose sight of what we're working with. The more we let computers do our thinking for us, the more complacent our brains (and eventually our bodies) will become. Humankind should use the tools it creates, not let the creations control us. There's too much of that going around already...

(The Last Word (c) Mike Aragona. All rights reserved. No reproduction or retransmission of this article is granted without written permission of Mike Aragona)

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