Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Cultural Illiteracy

Special Type

When businesses moved from file cabinets stuffed with mostly typed and hand-written documents, to digital media, most adults got left behind.  Basic reading and writing was relegated to SQL and/or noSQL, which in turn lives behind web forms.  Spreadsheets are "what if" or "read only", like most web pages, making cube farmers the new peasants, illiterate and outside the bastion, not part of the 0.01%.  If a spreadsheet is also writable, then it's too mutable to matter (unless "what if").

In other words, if you're ignorant of SQL, you're incapable of even the most basic clerical functions associated with our current global / local civilization.  You're a peasant (cube farmer?) in the older sense, not like in Cuba where an agrarian engineer might use NumPy on Linux to map out the plantings and compute the return.  Not all peasants are digitally challenged.  But in the USA, where public schools usually share nothing of SQL, the depth of ignorance is deep.

Case in point:  I've always used CenturyLink for Internet access, including as an ISP back to US West days, then through the Qwest period.  I recently upgraded from DSL to optical fiber, but guess what?  I'm treated as a consumer of Prism TV services and no static IP is available in my network.  They don't expect me to host a computer or serve web pages from my house?  Why?  Because I'm just another dumb American who knows neither how to read nor write (in the business sense).

If you're just another dummy, then what you want piped to your house is News Weather and Sports so you can lie there like a couch potato, get fat, and die.  Woo hoo, what a great life that was, right?

Back in the day, the ancient Egyptians had a pyramid society (pun intended) with peasants at the base, then craftsmen, then military, then finally scribes and inner circle courtiers surrounding the Pharaoh.  Switching to China, we imagine the Emperor, surrounded by eunuchs.  The scribes were the ones who knew the SQL of their day.  To peasants, record-keeping was what it seemed like to us, a lot of cryptic hieroglyphics.  But the eunuchs knew the power of clerical work (clerking) when it comes to effective admin.  Fast forward:  So why do you think they call it "Unix"?  That's a joke for insiders.

We've returned to such a society.  The cube farmers who just use Microsoft Excel all day are piss ignorant with no scribe-level business skills.  They're mostly kept alive in meaningless jobs (feeding pens) so they'll consume and pay bills in a service economy.  The economy depends on pointless shopping and meaningless services.  If your life develops enough meaning to where you can't be trusted to mindlessly consume then you're a threat and a good-for-nothing.  Preventing the spread of static IP is a first line of defense against literacy making a come back.