Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

a declining land can’t help but waste its experts  §

I’ve been trapped in this ridiculous set of repetitive tasks for hours that a computer could do in ten minutes if I could get access to the tools necessary to make it happen. Ever notice how to so many people (often at the top), computers are like 3rd world dictators, stubborn stoics with limited skill and sophistication but a nonetheless iron will?

I’m of working with small minds and backward organizations who believe that computers either “can” or “can’t” do something. I’m tired of people who have no idea where the “can do” list ever came from. It doesn’t occur to them that humans themselves came up with the list at some point, much less that the list is easily malleable. As far as such people can tell, the list of what a computer “can” and “can’t” do is an edict from god. It was always there, consisting of precisely those things that appear in the menus across the top of a window, nothing less and nothing more, like a religious text or a force of nature.

Trying to explain to such people that computers are just tools — and *our* tools at that — and that if they don’t do something right now, all that we have to do is tell them how to do it using tools that are already there, and then they *will* do it… trying to tell them that we can change the menus… well that’s beyond these people.

They always shake their heads at me. Then they tell me that the computer “can’t” do that. I tell them that I can make the computer to do X, Y, and Z as well in like thirty seconds if they’ll just give me access. But they recoil at such a suggestion and see it as abhorrent, as though changing a setting, writing a little code, or (gasp) adding an option or a process to a menu is an unnatural act.

And when I actually *do* manage to make tools with the limited access that I have, nobody else asks about them or wants to use them or to have to account for the fact that I’ve used company time creating them when I’m so clearly not officially “the computer guy,” so I end up being the only one who uses them (saving myself many hours of menial work in the process). And then they usually double-check every last bit of (the amazing amount of) work that I do anyway because they don’t trust the tool that I used — it’s all, you certainly realize, work done by “a nonstandard tool.”


It turns out that most people are just not that bright. They’re as silly and slow with a computer as they would have been a hundred years ago with a white rock and a piece of slate. The unexceptional are doomed to forever be just that.


I just wish it didn’t cost the rest of us time and effort to be held back by them all.

Okay, steam blown.