About "newbies" and their education:
I find that one of my biggest drawbacks as a systems administrator
is that I've forgotten how to think stupidly. Not that stupidity is
bad in itself; it comes just before understanding. But to wallow in
it is deplorable, and to forget it is dangerous! No matter how
simple you make things, there's always SOMEBODY who doesn't get it.
This can be incredibly frustrating. I remember nights when I've sat
down and thought: how can they possible have miscontrued this? Are
they trying to be stupid?
Lately I have been trying to engineer a UUCP/Email Client program,
made up of a few other packages (Pegasus, UUPC/Extended). The obj-
ective is to provide my WAN community with a super-simple way to
access the Internet. It has turned to be an educational experience:
it has taught me a great deal about the mystery of stupidity. It's
a mystery that I think a lot of people would do well to learn; for
we're not going to be able to "raise" the understanding of our
newbies unless we can somehow speak their language, and learn to
forestall their aggrevating antics.
So I don't think it's bad intentions on their part; it's just that
there's this enormous gap between "guru" and "newbie". The chasm is
so great that the two stand opposed to each other like night and
day. The list server of the future is either going to have to be
uselessly simple, or so developed that it transcends the limitations
of its own intelligence (when it can ascend to such heights that it
reverts back to its own origin). It would be a Taoist piece of
magic, but at the moment, some of our list servers may just be too
darn intelligent. Fuzziness is the universal trait shared by the
minds of all newbies. Clear cut distinctions just don't wash. So
we need a program that can deal with fuzziness! (someone mentioned
AI... I think that's an excellent way to go).
Until then, it's a problem that's just going to get worse the more
you think about it. At the present time, there doesn't seem to be
much you can do except put on a happy grin, swallow a Tums, and
answer their questions (no matter how stupid).
John Wiegley (firstname.lastname@example.org)