On Wednesday, October 27th, I discovered for the first time what happened to my Web server when it was hit by the Slashdot effect. The server stayed up and mail kept being processed, but everything was happening pretty darn slowly. The reason my server encountered the Slashdot effect is that on Tuesday, October 26th, Christian Einfeldt published a review of my book, “Moving to Linux : Kiss the Blue Screen of Death Goodbye!, 2nd edition”. He titled the story “Fighting FUD With Humor”. Somebody posted the story to Slashdot and the Slashdot effect ensued.
What’s most interesting about all this is the discussion that followed on the review. People had their say on a lot of things, but I was taken to task on one statement in particular; this one:
“The biggest obstacle is fear. Modern Linux distributions are easy to install and easy to use. Unfortunately, we are constantly presented with messages telling us that it’s too hard and that the average person couldn’t possibly grasp the complexity. That’s rubbish.
“People aren’t stupid and people who use computers learn new things all the time.
People got rather upset that I would dare suggest that most people are actually smart enough to learn to use desktop Linux. “Gagné is wrong“, they said, “people are stupid. Linux is too tough.” Some even suggested that I obviously never worked a day of tech support in my life (in fact, I’ve did tech support for over ten years of my professional life). It does strike me as odd, funny, and sad, all at the same time, that people beat up on me (figuratively speaking) for suggesting that people can learn new things.
You could say they questioned my faith in humanity. Amazing! [ insert appropriate smiley here ]
Amazing also, that the apparent reason for sticking with Windows is that people are (according to some Slashdotters) too stupid to learn anything new and therefore can’t use anything but Windows. If those Slashdotters are correct, then we’d see ads like “Too stupid to use a computer? Can’t learn anything new? Then run Windows!” Not, I suspect, what Microsoft wants to use as a marketing slogan.
I’ll wrap this up with the last part of my statement on this.
“People aren’t stupid and people who use computers learn new things all the time. Every time you buy and/or install a new package, you need to learn it (even in Windows). Every time you upgrade to a new version, there are changes and you need to learn. If you upgrade from Win 9x to Win XP, you will have to relearn some things. The same is true of learning to use Linux.
You can’t live in this world without being exposed to new things. Adapting is what humans do and change is the only constant we can be sure of.