Re: Technology and the Mind


Hm. Heavier objects do not fall faster than lighter ones. Please do
some research before stating somehting which is not factual.


On 1/26/18, Eleni Vamvakari <> wrote:
Yes, all sorts of exceptions can be made. But realistically, most
things on Earth don't exist in vacuums, so it's safe to say that a
heavy object will fall faster than a lighter one. Most blind people
do have a cane or a dog, so they can learn to cross the street safely.
However, if they did not, it would be dangerous, or if the street was
extremely quiet, they would still have a greater possibility of
getting lost, tripping over things, etc. Granted, it is faster to
just hit start. But again, this is an over simplification of a task
which is simple in the first place. This idea is becoming a trend in
general. In any case, if the touchscreen or some other computerised
component breaks, it costs far more to fix than replacing a dial or a
small component. In the case of cooking, it's not degrading the mind.
It's lacking an essential skill in life. I'm not saying that we all
must have the skills of chefs. But we should know the basics and be
able to cook decent meals for ourselves that don't come in a box.

Naturally, learning something as complicated as a commandline will
take practice. So someone who is more familiar with the gui will
probably work faster than someone who is not as familiar with the
commandline. I think the people who explained it on the sites were
talking about those with equal competence, as was I. Those sighted
people who started later on computers didn't need them when DOS was
popular. But if they did, they would have learned it. At the same
time, they also knew how to do things without their computers,
including researching, solving problems, communicating effectively,
budgeting, scheduling, etc. Now, everyone uses computers for
everything, and relies on them instead of using their own minds and
abilities. That is basically what I am saying here.

On 26/01/2018, Mary Otten <> wrote:
The problem with the argument about the command line being faster is
that it assumes a person is an excellent typist and that the person has
taken the time and has the aptitude for memorizing the complexities of
such an interface, including the complicated syntax, and that they use
it enough to keep all that info actively in their memory. That is a
hugely limiting factor, given the fact that, unless you are somebody who
must work with that system every day, you will not meet those criteria,
nor should you. For instance, where I use to work, I knew people who
were wizards with the unix command line. But they couldn't do my
translation job at all. And I couldn't do theirs. Nobody was good at
both things, because we didn't need to be and it would have been a huge
waste of time. and that's quite aside from the fact that I don't have
the aptitude or interest in the arcane ins and outs of unix, and my
programmer friends could care less about Russian or Arabic grammar etc.

While this isn't scientific, I know plenty of sighted folks who are
great with the gui but only got into computers when they didn't have to
mess with dos, because learning all that command line stuff just wasn't
a high priority for them, not because of laziness, but because they had
other things to do with their lives and they just weren't all that
interested in spending the time on it. And none of that has the least
little thing to do with entitlements or expecting everything to be easy.


On 1/26/2018 3:23 AM, Gene wrote:
You are applying first principles with no proof. That's what
Aristotle did in science. Itproduced interesting speculations but they
were worthless as science. Does a heavier object fall faster than a
lighter one? It's just common sense, of course it does. Except for
the unpleasant fact that, when you test the question, dropping a five
pound weight and a feather in a vacuum, they fall at the same speed.
It's air resistance that makes the feather fall more slowly. But
isn't it just common sense that a lighter object falls more quickly?
Common sense in this case and observations of what happens under
ordinary conditions?
It's just common sense that a blind person can't cross a street.
Except that, if sight, with the skills learned to use it that are
taken for granted is not available, there is other information in the
environment that can be used. But just common sense, how can a blind
person do this without sight. I close my eyes and I can't do it, is
the cause of a great deal of the discrimination against blind people.
It's self-evident, just like Aristotle's first principles, once
explained. You don't know if a touch screen is slower. You are
simply making that statement. Where is your observations of sighted
people using each. Where is your cost/benefit analysis of the much
greater versatility touch screens give products by allowing far more
choices to be made. There is no consideration of how a product
designer can design a product to make repetitive tasks using a touch
screen very efficient. If a washing machine has three or four or five
wash settings and the product remembers the last setting used, if the
person using the machine just presses the start button on the screen
next time, that is actually faster than turning a mechanical timer to
the correct setting on the washer every time.
The brain needs to be exercised to maintain optimum operation. But
cooking is just one way to excersise the brain. The world is full of
ways you can use it.
Is a lawyer who doesn't cook somehow degrading his mind? Is a violin
player degrading her mind if she doesn't cook? Where is your evidence
that not learning one single skill in preference to another damages
the mind?
It's not just the importance of the skill that determines its value to
keeping the mind active or, perhaps improving its performance in some
ways. It's the nature of the skill. I am extremely skeptical that
you can demonstrate that cooking requires such unique skills and that
those skills are so unused elsewhere that not knowing how to cook
ruins the mind.
----- Original Message -----
*From:* Eleni Vamvakari <>
*Sent:* Friday, January 26, 2018 12:04 AM
*To:* <>
*Subject:* Re: [TechTalk] Technology and the Mind

I actually didn't think of the shortening of attention spans and
social media, but I certainly see it in horrible things like netspeak,
textspeak, images used instead of words, etc. Both English and Greek,
and I would assume other languages as well, are being destroyed by
these things and made into something almost unrecognisable. I think
the idea that everyone is entitled to everything without having to
work for it is a major part of all of these changes. It's the same
reason why people keep buying new things instead of figuring out how
to fix old ones, when the sollution could be incredibly simple. That,
or they buy them just because they're new, whether or not they even
need the extra features provided. I'm not sure how to answer your
question about moving from DOS to Windows. In some ways, it was good.
But considering that modern versions of DOS can do most of the things
done by Windows, I suppose it really depends on the specifics, the
user, etc. Many sites that I have seen, including impartial ones that
just explain the differences between operating systems, admit that the
commandline is much quicker than the gui. This is especially true for
fast typers. The answer regarding frozen dinners is much easier. If
you know how to cook but simply choose not to do so, they're not
ruining your mind. If all you know is how to make frozen dinners,
then yes, they are definitely ruining your mind, because using them is
robbing you of a very important skill. Yes, I have compared the time
that it takes for people to use a dial versus a touchscreen, though
not with a stopwatch. Some of that is also common sense. It is
quicker to turn a dial to the desired time and walk away than to press
several buttons to do the same thing. While the time difference isn't
measured in minutes, it still exists, and dials are still less
complicated to use and easier to learn. This would still be the case
if the buttons were regular and not on a touchscreen.

On 25/01/2018, Mary Otten <
<>> wrote:
I agree with you, Gene. I've used computers since the "good old dos
days". Back then, it was a hobby sort of thing. A novelty. There is no
way that this sort of tech would have become so ubiquitous if
had to learn a whole boatload of stuff just to get tasks done. A
computer is a tool, not an end in itself, unless you are a hobbiest or
serious programmer. The gui made the computer into a mass consumer
rather than a niche product for geeks. the fact that the ever changing
landscape presents us blind folks with some extra problems is
undeniable. As I get older, I get less and less interested in change
change sake. I'm sick of learning newe stuff just to be able to do
I can already do. But the unfortunate fact is that these are tools and
they are designed for the great majority, and that's not us. At least
now, companies like MS are paying attention and trying to do the right
thing, even though I for one could use more documentation that is easy
to get at. I am a manual reader, not an experimenter, but that is
another issue.


On 1/25/2018 7:36 PM, Gene wrote:
Making things more simple isn't the problem. In Socrates' time,
people objected to writing because, they said, people would have to
remember less. You can take these arguments back and back and they
are no more valid now than before. Computers are a consumer product.
I could make the same arguments about cars, radio, take your choice.
Do you really want an old radio, perhaps as it was around 1915 or
where you had to use three knobs to tune it?
Social media and the shortening of attention spans are a different
question. But making computers easier to use has nothing to do with
that problem. Those who want to play with technology are welcome.
Windows has lots of technical settings and it still has a command
line. The typical computer user learns what he/she needs to learn to
do whatever he has or wants to do. Some people learn some more, some
people learn a lot more. but many people just learn what they need.
First there was DOS. Are you going to say that moving from DOS to
Windows was a bad idea because they made computers more simple? I
learned how to put sound cards into computers in the Nineties and how
to install software for the soundcards. Now, I can just use a USB
sound card. It was interesting to learn how to install sound cards
but a truly mature consumer product doesn't require people to know
such things. You are conflating consumer products getting more
and the deterioration of thinking ability. That deterioration is the
result of things like social media, not computers becoming more
I don't like to cook. Are you saying that frozen dinners, because
they make it unnecessary for me to do so are ruining my mind?
And I'll note, in passing that, as Ronald Reagan famously said,
you go again." You said that using dials on appliances is faster and
more efficient. How do you know? Have you compared the time it
people to set a dial compared with the time it takes to use a touch
screen on an appliance? Have you considered the far greater amount
choice in what is selected for what you want the appliance to do with
a flat screen than with a dial? Again, you appear to be reasoning and
making assumptions extrapolating from what you infer as a blind
person. If you have real evidence of some sort, I'd like to know
it is.
----- Original Message -----
*From:* Eleni Vamvakari <>
*Sent:* Thursday, January 25, 2018 7:28 PM
*To:* <>
*Subject:* [TechTalk] Technology and the Mind

I am starting a new thread, because the one on ribbons was truly
going off-topic, and I wish to explain the comments that I have made
there and elsewhere, as well as to learn what others think. My full
argument goes beyond the scope of this group, , which is devoted to
technology. So I will confine my examples and explanations to
technological ones. However, if this discussion is still not welcome
here, please accept my apologies, and I will not add anything else to
it. Note that these are generalisations. I am not claiming that
everyone today is like this. Most of what I am about to say is also
personal opinion.

Ribbons are just one small example of a large problem that is
destroying society. No one has the patience to wait a few seconds,
let alone minutes, to do something, or the desire to investigate
things. This is the age of instant gratification, when everyone
everything handed to him. As Windows has changed, it seems to me
it has become more and more dumbed down. By this, I mean that, with
each successive version, it has made things easier to the point that
no one really has to think anymore when he uses his computer or his
phone. This, in my opinion, has led to a general loss of intellect,
curiosity, and ability to think for oneself. If I do something
or if I can't figure something out, I know enough to check the
to search in the program, or to search online, until I find the
answer. If my battery is low, I don't need Windows to tell me that
plugging in my computer might resolve the issue. If I wish to
a program, I don't need Windows to ask me several times if I want to
do so, or to prevent me from accessing certain folders (not system
folders, , but things like My Documents) unless I take ownership of
the entire system. I don't need a voice assistant to search for me,
because I know how to type. Of course, it's different for those who
can't use their hands well, but I am talking about average users. I
don't need a program to automatically correct my spelling, even when
know what I'm writing. I don't need to do crazy gestures with my
fingers in order to accomplish tasks that can easily be done with a
menu or a commandline. I don't need to rely on a phone book or list
of numbers to call people with whom I speak on a daily basis, because
I remember their numbers.

I also think that there is far too much unnecessary technology in
the home. I am not referring to adaptive equipment that can be
extremely helpful to those who need it, but to mainstream items. For
example, I don't need to use a touchscreen when washing or drying my
clothing or when cooking my food. Dials are not only quicker and
efficient, but cheaper and easier to replace as well. I also don't
need a machine to control all of my appliances in my home, from my
television to my coffeemaker

My guess, and this is not supported by science, is that the average
DOS user (and probably commandline Linux user as well) is able to
retain far more in his mind than the average modern Windows or phone
user, and is more resourceful when he finds himself in a difficult
situation. This is largely because he knows his operating system
well, and doesn't expect it to help him every step of the way. This
same mindset can be applied to life in general, where it can be
extremely useful. The problem is not that the modern computer or
phone user is necessarily stupid and unable to learn. It's that he
doesn't have to, and consequently, he doesn't want to do so. Every
time something is made easier, a skill or an opportunity to learn and
to challenge oneself is lost. There needs to be a balance between
having to actually build your own computer in order to use it, which
most people cannot do, and having it practically tell you what to do
when you turn it on.

In short, things that are meant to simplify the world are crippling
humanity, and are taking valuable things away, from skills to
socialisation, but that last is for another discussion. Technology is
a wonderful thing, but I think it's also important to remember the
Delphic maxims; "everything in moderation" and "nothing to excess."

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