The Last Nail in the Coffin of Car Analogies

In 2007, I started this blog with a quote from Turkle’s introduction to the second edition of The Second Self (2004). She wrote:

It takes as a given that people once knew how their cars, televisions, or telephones worked and don’t know this any more, but that in the case of mechanical technology, such losses are acceptable. It insists however, that ignorance about the fundamentals of computation comes at too high a price.

Computers are not cars, computer users are not drivers, the paperless office is not to be compared with the paperless toilet, and a computer interface is more complex than a door, with or without a knob. In the end of 2011 many still don’t care about it, but there is more and more said on differences in between artifacts of mechanical world and digital age phenomena. There is more awareness of distinctions.

I like how Douglas Rushkoff brought a new retrospective perspective to car analogies. In the last chapter of his book Program or be Programmed not only he denounces the analogy, but states that in fact it was a fatal mistake to give up knowledge about how cars work.


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