Open Source, Personal

Day 58: Use the command line.

I have been working lately on a few educational offerings for artists and arts administrators–some workshops, some consulting/training gigs, that kind of thing. As I was writing one up today, I realized how much I like sharing my knowledge with others.

There have been times when I felt frustrated: Why do people always want to build their own websites instead of hiring someone like me who is actually quite good and speedy at it? Why do we feel so compelled to learn all the skills instead of asking for help?

I've since come to terms with a few things: Not everyone needs a professionally built website, especially with the sophistication of available tools. But I also think we should all be a little more technically savvy than we are, which doesn't seem that controversial: Skill-building is good!! But skill building takes a long time and we can't know everything.

But as I've gotten more into the open source part of my life, into the teams and tools and techniques that we use to build some incredibly sophisticated software, the more I realize that knowing LOTS about computers is good. For everybody.

I was a “digital native” before that was a thing (that's me asleep at the computer at age 3 up there). Strangely, later in life than my peers, I decided to become a professional, and I've learned A LOT. I learned how to use the command line–a little bit at first, then more and more until now I fire it up because it's how I do things.

Still, part of me held onto the idea that computers were going to get so easy that pretty much NO one would need to know how to write code. Certainly not your average user. Like, it's nice for me to know all this stuff because I do this for work, but everybody else doesn't need it. In the future, we can point and click and use all the friendly apps and the code can be hidden from us.

Then I realized…I'm describing the present. And people aren't happy with the results. Yeah, they can build a website but then they can't get that ONE BOX to turn green. They hate the way facebook controls their social life. Things stop working and then you have to buy another really expensive computer because you don't know how to fix the one you have.

The reason we're all grumpy about technology is because the technology is in control. We don't get how it works, so we close our eyes and pray that it all sticks together. I know it's tempting to stay in that mode, because learning things can be hard. But it's worth it, you guys!

I'm not advocating that we all grow out our Linux Guy Beards and Ponytails (although maybe I am…). I DO think all of us could use more foundational knowledge of the technology we use everyday–not because it's the Right Thing To Do, but because we'll be happier. I believe in a future where arts administrators know how to use the command line. And I'm excited to lead the way. I want the art community to lead the way with technical ability, not sit in the back nervously chewing our nails. Knowing how computers work is the way of the present and the future, you guys. Artists and the organizations that support them have so much to offer–let's not keep embarrassing ourselves with websites from 2003, yeah? Let's be awesome. Let's learn. Let's get good at this stuff.

I'll go first.

Hilarious p.s. When I logged on to post this entry, my WHOLE SITE WAS BROKEN. It made me want to write another entry about realistically assessing how great you need your website to be and not building an overkill solution, but instead, I fixed it. On the command line. Because I'm a boss. A boss who sometimes has to fix her own website.

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