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Technology Literacy - 2017-06-22

It's quite annoying to hear, as it is for most techies, whenever people say that millennials are the 'technology' or 'digital' generation. Let's begin pointing out why this is wrong. When I ask a millennial to write a plain text file and they open a word processor, that's technological illiteracy; when I am told by a millennial that their internet was going slow so they upgraded their RAM, that's technological illiteracy; when a millennial doesn't understand that VLC can't play an iMovie project file (they copied the iMovie project file from a Mac computer to a Windows computer), that's complete technological stupidity. If you would like more information on why millennials are technological know-nothings you can visit this blog post which does an excellent job at explaining the issue. In reality, millennials are just as computer literate as our parents were television literate (ie. I know how to press the buttons to make it go on and off, but the day one minor thing doesn't work in exactly the same way I shit myself and have to call in tech support).

So, you may be asking "Why is it important that we have computer literacy in the first place?". The answer to which is quite simple: because you depend on it. When you depend on something, typically you learn enough about it so that when things go wrong you have a basic knowledge of it and aren't drooling like an idiot. Hence why in primary school we learn basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division (and many other things later on that are also fundamental to our ability to survive in society). If you depend on something you should at least have a minimal understanding of how to actually use it and how it works. The same way that when you get a car you learn the different parts of the car and how to check and make sure it's in shape, you still have to know how to check the oil and such.

So, what should people learn in order to be technologically/computer literate? I'm not going to ask that everyone be a programmer and learn to script, or that everyone learn how to compile things from source. However, there are basic concepts that people need to understand, such as how you actually connect to the internet, what the internet is actually about (which is a bunch of other computers we call servers that people connect to, and domain names being retrieved from DNS servers, and what the hell ports are as well as basic protocols like HTTP, HTTPS, and FTP), they should learn what a file format is, they should learn what an operating system really is (not what they're lead to believe by Windows and Mac which hide absolutely everything from you so you take things for granted), they should learn how to check the health of their system and use a resource manager to figure out why their OS is running slow, they should learn about directory trees so they can figure out what's actually taking up all their hard drive space, etc. This is absolute basic shit which people should be learning in schools as their basic education, and it wouldn't even take that long to teach, you could probably fit this into a one year course, and if there's space left over introduce them to the command-line so that they can see that by running the program in the command-line they get more information about why it crashes which can be given to developers so they have a better idea of why it crashed in the first place.

This is not something that's completely out-of-this-world, it's quite basic shit, and the fact that most people (especially millennials) don't know this stuff makes them extremely vulnerable to all sorts of scams and stupid decisions, and helps them to be convenienced pieces of shit who can't look things up on their own before asking for help (now that I mention this, perhaps the first thing they should learn is how to use a search engine to find a solution to their problem instead of asking the closest techie). I'm not asking for everyone to turn into computer wizards, I'm asking them to at least be able to detect more or less where a problem is coming from when they get an issue and for them to attempt to solve it themselves (via searching the problem first) before coming to people like me. If all I have to do in order to solve your issue is put your error in a search engine, that's something you could've done yourself.