November 09, 2003

Computer Theory

My grandson tells me that he is having to spend more time on the computer in his teaching job this year than ever before. He also says that the things teacher’s are doing with computers are nothing short of miraculous, but unbelievably time consuming. Here’s a short list.

    1. take attendance
    2. write lessons
    3. track schedules and meetings
    4. record keeping & grades
    5. post grades, lessons, and assignments on line
    6. communicate with district personnel through internal e-mail
    7. communicate with parents and students through district on line e-mail

Adam says that all grades and assignments are available on line for parents and students to check at any time. "That makes everyone more accountable, including the teacher."

I have several thoughts about that. First, computers were supposed to make work faster and easier. Instead, according to Adam, my other grandchildren, and children, the work day seems to revolve increasingly around the computer, with hours of extra computer generated and/or related tasks added on. The computer has increasingly taken over their work and daily lives. To understand how this has happened it is necessary to summarize several facts about the nature of the computer. First, the computer is based on a binary system of mathematical certainty that dictates a “yes or no” basis for all that which is built over the underlying dichotomous network. The binary units are organized into strings and then into various languages that allow programers to create the structures that we all use to organize information in various ways; write, do math and science, compose music, draw, paint, communicate through the Internet, etc. So, the second fact is that when we work, we are thinking through someone else’s thought patterns because all computer programs work the way their creator’s mind works. Third, the computer is a bottomless pit, an informational black hole, and we must feed it. Thus we are coerced in three ways to work according to the dictates of the computer. Our society is more and more about organizing information, and we are increasingly the unwitting victims of this pattern of coercion.

A Social Theory and The Computer

Ludwig Fleck, in The Genesis and Development of a Scientific Fact, published in the United States in 1981, was a medical doctor and researcher who was caught in Hitler’s Nazi juggernaut and survived. Fleck described scientific discovery as a social process in which reality is constructed within the social context of communities of thinkers. The communities develop styles of thought that over time become systems that constrain, limit, and determine thought to such an extent that it is impossible for the individual to perceive the world in alternate ways (Fleck 38-51). Individuals must perform within a system that prescribes the performance, the relationships of the various performers, and the ways that the lines of the performance may be delivered, though perhaps the lines themselves may be improvised.

To paraphrase Fleck in terms of the 21st Century Computer driven era in which we live, I believe that we live and work in a system based on the computer. The thought styles of communities of workers have developed over a period of time through the influence of computers into systems in which reality is made within the social context of computer driven work. Styles of thought have become constrained and determined by the nature of our computerized society. These systems are so determining as to prevent the individual from understanding the world in alternate ways.

Bombings in Saudi Arabia

This new suicide car bomb attack has killed more than 35 persons including the 9 possible terrorists themselves. Most of the other injuries and deaths were women and children of various nationalities. The Saudi governement is attributing the attack to al-Quaida. The attack points out the evil nature of a terrorist organization whose members are willing to die so that innocents may die as well. Yes, this is a sick holy war!

Once again, I know that God is asking this question of Mr Bush and our nation.

“Why sink to their level? Why has the USA invaded Iraq and also killed innocent women and children in a holy war against al-Quaida? If this is a war against terrorism, why are you making terrorism of your own.”

Dear journal, let us truly fight against terror, and not invade foreign countries.
Let’s make a huge effort to create an international police force created through the United Nations whose task it would be to root out and destroy terrorist organizations. Building such a police force would be a wonderful start on an actual war against terror!

The image and information above was acquired from an AP article by Donna Abu-Nasr. The article is located at “”

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