The See Also Literature and technology Book Club discussion

The Fuzzy and the Techie > Lowering the technology bar.

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message 1: by Eric (last edited May 14, 2018 06:21AM) (new)

Eric | 36 comments In chapter 2, the author talks about how technology tools have become more accessible to people without advanced degrees or extensive training. Is there something that you or someone you know have been able to accomplish as a result of this?

message 2: by Nina (new)

Nina | 18 comments If I were to be labeled, I’d certainly fall into the fuzzy category. I attended a liberal arts college, majoring in communications. Before I started college, I had only used a computer for word processing and a few games. I had no home internet access, and had only ever gone online a few times at school or at the library to complete school assignments. I never would have expected to work with technology in anything more than a superficial way.

And yet, in my current job, I’ve been able to implement so many technological solutions. Most of my tech skills are self-taught. One example is a scripting language that lets me build macros to send a series of commands to my computer. I can update thousands of records, print out a series of documents, format a spreadsheet to my specifications — all with the click of a mouse.

I was introduced to the scripting language at a library conference, but what the presenter built was very complex, and having no previous experience with coding, I found it a bit intimidating. It took me while to build up the nerve to try it out myself, but when I did, I was pleasantly surprised at how detailed the online manual was. My librarian skills came in handy as I searched the documentation for the commands I wanted to use. I realized that I didn’t need to know all the answers, I just needed to know where to look to find them.

I was able to build my first script pretty quickly. It was fairly simple — nowhere near as sophisticated as the one I saw presented at the library conference — but it revolutionized my department’s workflow. That script is something we now use every day. While I still wouldn’t consider myself an expert, I've learned that technology does not have to be elaborate in order for it to be useful.

message 3: by Amy (new)

Amy (puzumaki) | 45 comments I've seen a lot of automation and standardization happening in the industry that makes it so much easier. Some projects are currently available to use that automates actual writing of code, so one can draw on paper the design and the software "sees" it, turns it into code. Adobe has been attempting this for several years, taking designed mockups and offering an "HTML output" of it. I can't say I've seen the quality of said code, but the first one uses a bank of available components that supposedly have been pre-programmed so could be designed for better accessibility, for instance.

Browsers have become more conforming to standards, as I mentioned, which makes access a much lower barrier. That is, as a user you shouldn't see much of the "you need to use X browser to view this site" these days. That's mostly in part due to browsers agreeing to follow W3C recommendations, so there's a strong community that provides input as to what developers, designers, and users need. This "open community" approach has vastly improved access to this technology and best practices. Something like Bootstrap and jQuery have simplified designing websites considerably (not always for the best). And recent programming languages like Ruby on Rails have super simplified building apps.

Again, "open" is making this all more available, this time referring to open source technology and having a slightly more mature way to produce, deploy, and maintain open source packages. It can be a bit of a learning curve to understand how to access or use some of this "free" technology, but tutorials are easy to find either on Youtube or as articles.

So yes, access to the tools and technologies has increased, and some of them have implemented good practices, but it's still heavy on the person using them to understand security, privacy, accessibility, usability, design, and how to properly manage and maintain their projects. For me, those were learned through experience, so while it's easy enough to build something, you still really want experts (not just anyone who can code) who can bring that additional knowledge.

message 4: by Eric (new)

Eric | 36 comments Aah, I have to get back to work. To be continued. But I am extremely happy to be reading both of your thoughts on these subjects. I feel significantly smarter already :)

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