I'm working on the final touches of a treatise on Systems Administration that I've mentioned in passing here before. I hope to have this project up on a web-server near you (near me?) in a few months. Because I've had a lot of fun working on this project, I decided that it would be cool to do a similar project on another topic dear to my technical interest: Computing Literacy.
Computing literacy? Isn't that a little *early nineties* for you and or everyone?
Well yes, I suppose, but don't think that the improvements that have aided the adoption of technology in the last 20 years have necessarily raised the amount of computing literacy. In fact, it would not surprise me if all of the abstraction and friendly user interfaces make it more difficult for users to understand how their computers actually work.
Because their computers play such an important role in everyone's life and work, I suspect that there are a lot of folks who don't know how these things work but want to learn. And the truth is that there aren't a lot of resources around for people who aren't already tinkerers and hackers.
This is where I fit in: I can write a book-like object that provides useful information in an easy to understand way that technical people can provide their friends and family say things like "what's a database?" or "what do you mean compiled?" or "what's a server?" or "what is this file system thing?"
Are you so arrogant as to think that you can add something new to this subject?
I'm not going to develop new technology here, or suddenly make things easier to understand, but I think there's a niche for computer users between people like me, who download putty on other people's computers to ssh into their VPS server which hosts a VPN that their laptops are connected to, to ssh into their laptops to kill misbehaving X11 sessions (no really, I just did that,)* and most people who just know how to open MS word and send emails, and browse the web.
And I think that giving folks who are technically creative, intuitive, and curious a way to learn about their computers and technology would be great. Particularly in a way that doesn't assume too much prior knowledge, or an interest in complicated math.
Ok, so you're convinced that it's a good idea, what's going to be special about this?
First, while the material will not be so complicated or so novel, I think the presentation may be. Additionally, I envision this document as a useful reference for describing and defining basic computing concepts, to support more technical blog posts and articles.
Finally , I think it would be fun to do this book-like object in a more iterative style, relative to the Systems Administration book: I'll sketch out the basics, put a disclaimer at the top about links breaking and then publish it, and publish changes and make the whole thing accessible by git..
Sound cool to anyone?
So there you have it.
Expect to hear more in the late summer or fall...