A personal meditation on how we learn, and how we learn is changing radically for the better due to new technology.

1989: I go to college and want to learn about how “real” computers work–VMS and Unix–the foundation of all of today’s phones/tablets/PCs/servers.

Only way: Get a job at a computer lab that owned such a computer; get access to the literal wall of paper manuals. Read those cover to cover; then what? Scientific/technical journals. Only with access to the research university library.

1990: Co-op job at IBM where I discovered a mainframe (!) search engine of science/tech journals; in 3 days, I had printed copies via office mail!

This posed a major dilemma: How many papers could the intern request before Big Blue would fire his ***? Tested it into the hundreds. All other relevant info was on the Internet–IETF RFC’s, free software code–but who had access to the Internet in 1990? Not many.

25 years later: Every smartphone is the equivalent of a million-$ Unix supercomputer from that time, plus *all* that info is freely available online. Science/tech journals are still not completely free, but even those walls are falling fast now due to Google Scholar/PDF searches/policy reform.

Regarding journals: The Aaron Swartz documentary is out. It’s a powerful memory of freedom of an information hero and warrior for progress.

The Internet’s Own Boy – Trailer from FilmBuff on Vimeo.

Why does this matter? Information is the foundation of progress; info about computers is the basis of key tools for progress as software eats the world. Means of production being put in hands of the masses for the first time in human history. I’m a broken record on this, but: profound change.

[tweet https://twitter.com/i_sidh/status/480068314698219521 align=”center”] [tweet https://twitter.com/lloydoftheflies/status/480070520528830464 align=”center”] [tweet https://twitter.com/smalljones/status/480063976349655041 align=”center”] [tweet https://twitter.com/bgrffn/status/480064547366379520 align=”center”]

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