La Brea Computer Pit

DIhydrogen oxide falleth. No constitutional. But I did remain abed for a extra bit of time and that was moderately enjoyable. Still I eventually had to rise and perform ablutions. Which are increasingly unpleasant and even painful as my existence stretches on.

I had been muddling what to write about this morning when I decided to check email a bit before commencing with the morning blot. The first epistle I opened was from Coursera and that was as far as I got. 

I have commented previously of my aversion for on-line courses. I am simply not a read or view videos on a small screen (lots of hyphens shoulda been there) type of guy. I have commented previously of an online credit card course I had to complete several years ago that was supposed to take two hours and took me two days and a bottle of acetaminophen. I have come to the conclusion that I am a lecture-blackboard-book type of learner.

But I do note, bemusedly, the rise of these massive (?) online courses and so I subscribe to email from Coursera and edX to survey the offerings. I have to admit that I find the completion rate as less than a third and usually less than a tenth to fulfill my own bias of dislike and distaste. I also used to hate video-conferences although I never quite succumbed to nasal mucus removal as a diversion during such.

But what centered my cognition this morning was the relatively large number of ‘computer’ courses that were offered. Evidently this is some sort of Ouroborus situation. But what occurred to me was the wisdom of actually studying computer stuff. 

I have used computers since 1967 when I first learned FORTRAN and have made digital messes ever since, culminating with a tenure as CIO of a Yankee Army lab, inflicting my antiquity and nerdiness on manifold geeks and a few other nerds. And a fair number of bogs. So I am well disqualified to argue that one needs be careful in spending too much effort studying computers.

First consider that computers are turning into appliances (e.g., slabs) and that IT folk are becoming over-supervised Maytag men (idiom, not sexism.) Yes the job still pays pretty well – not as well as real engineers who can weld and lay asphalt and design moon rockets – but pretty good and steadily declining. Most computer work is the new blue collar for the new majority with college degrees but no education, just training.

I have learned that there is a rule of economics that if something pays well and lots of people take it up as a career, the pay goes down and the working conditions turn to slime. I am assured by my economist colleagues – none are actually friends for obvious reasons – that this is nothing but simple supply and demand although they cannot elaborate convincingly. 

I have colleagues of the Pure X variety who declaim that we need more Pure X in IT. I counter, unappreciated, that we need fewer people blindly selecting IT as a career. I am almost NEVER appreciated. Evidently reality and racial/gender/ethnic goals are immiscible or explosive. 

I should like to tell what folks need to study. The best I can come up with is business or real STEM. Making stuff up, whether computers or literature, doesn’t pay well in the long term although it is fun to study. Some of the nicest, poor, bogs I know were college literature geeks/nerds. Yes, Virginia, some of us cannot sustain nerdery and the marketplace is the primary reason.

So study computers at your own risk. And don’t pay a lot of attention to college advisers. For obvious reasons.