27.2.08

boku wa user ga hanasemasen

man, i now know what the word overload truly means. i'm trying to make a C program display tag output correctly, prototype a game-selling system interface, build (and understand) analogue sensors for my team's stupid-ass Lego robot, figure out how many photons per second are given off by a fucking 200W lightbulb (undergraduate quantum physics course), do laundry, read Anderson's seminal security engineering text, fix my damn Atheros card and calculate a dosage of dihydrocodeine that results in neither me bitchslapping my robotics team because the pain is pissing me off nor passing out in the corridors and getting groped and/or looted by the unscrupulous. it's a riot, sure, i'm as wired as i've ever been without the use of schmethamphetamines (fuck you, Google spider), but without stimulants, i just fucking collapse.

so instead of actually working, i'd like to point y'all to LSO's challenge server, challenge.learnsecurityonline.com. that's why i'm still up at 3:30: it feels so good to get root, you'll forgo sleep.

which leads me to my actual point: techheads are always percieved as being isolated from "real life" (i'm not gonna go into the semantic idiocy of that phrase right now), but up until now i've seen that as a kind of stupid myth. this last month or so has really changed my mind.

starting up, people's reactions to the kind of shit that doesn't even get a shrug from a hacker. the chip in my hand inspires about 1 "hey that's cool" or "you could use that for X random application" for every 99 "oh my god that's so fucking gross get that the fuck out of your body you fucking headcase". i've been seeing weird discrepancies in how tech people react to the world compared to the machine-illiterate, too: walking into a classroom with two unlabelled doors, i say to the guy next to me, "you know, that's really bad interface design", and then realise that's a fucking stupid thing to think. likewise, i keep trying to hit Ctrl-C Ctrl-V when faced with having to copy out bits of meatspace paper, and forgetting not to use the word meatspace when that's where i am, and i know there are guys out there way worse than me.

the problem is, that doesn't only isolate you from students, it gives tech itself a bad image. it also makes it virtually impossible to interact with endusers and clients meaningfully - you write in your docs, "bitsetq -a -f -x -q" and your users look at you and go, "hay lepht wtf is terminal anyways?" equally, students who listen to you won't ask questions if they hear one huge pile of jargon and unfamiliar concepts, they just give up. i'm gonna have to learn to act like a normal human being if i wanna deal with these people, and that's a huge part of what my job involves.

i think i've been in denial about that, trying to convince myself i think the same way as a social scientist or a historian, and it's seeming more and more like i was bullshitting myself. i guess we all gotta learn to speak user; seems to me like otherwise, users won't speak to us.

L

1 comment:

Tilka said...

i recently had to use a meatspace calculator and thought "ok, now for this aux calculation i need to do, just ctrl+a c, and- wait, how am i going to type that in? ohhh..."

screen for calculators would be A Good Thing.