Very few people, including some very software developers, are fluent in what Cory Doctorow [possibly first] described as “general purpose computing.” Many people seem to imagine a future time when “the kids know more than the adults,” but broadly speaking, this is fantastic thinking. Sure, the prodigies of tomorrow will certainly benefit from advanced tech knowledge freely available today, but the average person and even so-called ‘power users’ know so little about and are so removed from basic technologies underlying the Internet and their internetworked computing devices that it seems possible if not likely that people who are currently between 25 and 45 have more sophisticated broad knowledge of internet-related technologies than their children and grandchildren will.
Over the years, I’ve discussed ideas in this vein among professional associates, but I figured that was just confirmation bias and incestuous amplification. Over the past few years, however, a number of people have been arrested on and convicted of very serious criminal charges because they used some pretty basic software tools. It seems that rather than adapting to and representing an increasingly connected citizenry, the government and big business have been using dubious legal justifications to classify behavior that would be comparable to graffiti or trespassing offline as something more akin to organized crime or worse. The consequence of this, beyond the years and lives wasted in the justice system and the tax dollars spent financing it all, is that people are dissuaded from getting too close to more basic technologies because that whole concept seems criminal and dangerous. So we get more specialization; more folks learning how to use the GUI tools to administer small aspects of the system, getting caught up in the minutiae of proprietary software because they work in a silo where pedantry warrants respect.
But hopefully I’m wrong.