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Quitting: The Other Defeat

I Have No Idea What They Are Talking About

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, March 08, 2000.

So everyone knows, I had an epiphany recently. I looked up from a book purportedly about a computer program called Front Page and said, and I quote. "The hell with this." I cannot fully express the joy I felt in that. I had given up. I do not understand computer programming in even its most basic form. I gave up trying. I do not really want to know much about it, and I gave up trying to feel obligated to want to know. I quit. I placed an email and let someone else take over my website. I really, really enjoyed that sensation. In a matter of hours, the website was organized and better looking than I had made it in a year. It also has content on it, not much, but it's getting there. Wonderful. Suddenly, life has a point. I can write and not worry about frames, asp's, browser configurations, and whether animated singing marsupials look as good in Netscape as in Explorer. I make suggestions and suddenly it's there. Giving up. A long neglected sensation of empowerment.

In any event, if anyone in the future wants a transcript of these commentaries, even this one, you can go directly on your computer to darkendeavors.com, click on the commentaries button, select the date of interest, and print it out. Wonderful. Free, no mail, no phone calls. Apparently, if you are hooked up to KGNU, I will be linked to them as they are to me.

While I was trying to learn all about the Web and sites, I joined a number of forums dedicated to discussing how to build these things. I am fifty one, clearly past the learning wave, but I made diligent efforts to ascertain the point and advantages of various programs and visited all these sites to see the results of what, apparently, was the result of fifteen years of dedicated effort by professional site masters. I learned, in truth, very little because I didn't understand the terminology which, in any case, is a floating ephemeral that provides elastic meanings to the same words. At one point, I felt like that Dutch sailor in Shogun who listens incredulously to a woman try to explain the difference in Japanese words conveyed by vocal intonation. Think I'm exaggerating? Let me give you the classic example. The word "Web" - something I would consider a bedrock concept on which much is built - means something different to Microsoft than to the rest of the world. They admit it.

The only entire thread of messages I understood in these forums was when people got annoyed with each other and started getting vicious. It was enlightening to hear adults get snippy with teenagers who were charging less than industry standards to design websites, probably as well as the older people of, say, thirty. Then, there were the people who hate Microsoft just because and say that anyone who uses a Microsoft program is a spawn of the Devil himself and deserves to die a painful death. No exaggeration, people say that on the Web. It is disquieting, but at least I understood it and recognized the emotion behind it. In contrast, I do not understand messages that started "Hey Slop for Brains" try this, followed by forty lines of what I can only assume is code. That or an ancient Klingon war chant.

One sad thing that hovers over the Web and these forums in particular is that when computers and software were young, engineers spent years mastering various programs, only to find them instantly obsolete by programs that even negated the necessity of most future designers to learn the code at all. Evidently, you can program in English which is a serious step, like translating the Bible into English. The priests aren't needed, and the priests don't like that. Somehow, I think that is behind much of the anger at Microsoft and the current love affair certain mentalities have with Linux, a partially free software that allows people who love code to tweak and adjust. Linux, and programs like it, reconnects many of these suddenly obsolete engineers back into the mix. Or, cruelly, lures them to that false conclusion. Whatever the truth of the matter, the bitterness and deep emotion against Microsoft cannot be explained solely by concerns about monopoly and mediocrity. The language betrays real hurt. You should read these exchanges in these forums.

But when you visit so many sites, the thing that is immediately apparent is all hat and no cattle. Lots of buttons, gismos, sound effects, and none of it relevant to the business at hand except to slow down the connection. Also, the sites seem solely designed to only appeal to other designers. However brief and pathetic my sojourn in the land of site development, I have here the answers to unasked questions for the future benefit of our species. There are only two.

1. Confect a standard glossary of terminology so that normally placid English majors like myself do not become perfectly willing to kill.

2. All sites must link to darkendeavors.com.

Thank you, good night, and victory in November. This is Dark Cloud, see you next week.