1 - 15 August, 2003

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Language and Estrangement at 2Ghzps

Radu Rizea
Chief Editor

"World is changing... Fast". I wish I had a dime for every time I heard this. Bill Gates would have been my assistant accountant. I'm not about to endlessly chat about the technique - evolving faster than our understanding abilities, and I'm not about to lament on the fact that, except for some experts, no one understands what's going on.

In case you're living in Romania, just light up your TV set. You couldn't miss the latest Connex advertising for "re.inventeaza.te". Old man complaining about too many Java scripts in a site. Four-year old kids say that the multimedia format isn't proper, because the common software doesn't open it.

Than you may open the first press release of a major IT company. Implementation, efficiency, solutions, development, services, implementation again, open standards, integration, capability, compatibility, interoperability. And the list may go on for another 150 words - the minimum for a complete, still primitive vocabulary, enough only to send the basic message. Change the order of these words and you'll find the regular (closed standard) press release of a major IT company.

You're in the bus, next to two third-grade kids. And you hear them saying "it didn't even boot from a CD, the video card was sharing frequencies with the sound card, causing blue screens, so that I removed the sound card and a reformatted the hard disk, this time partitioned, than I changed my Savage for a NVIDIA, I put the games on F and the music on G, but I guess it's about the Win 2000 drivers, because it still doesn't prove itself".

Or you're at a party. Everyone falls asleep after a long day at the office, only the two IT specialists just keep on talking about what version of Bios fits best one of the motherboards... I just hope my grandma doesn't know about www.contactnet.ro She would send me to monastery for having worked on devil's tools.

Now, really? How far do you think it's the breakpoint? Or, at least, the moment when we all speak the same language? Class after class, we learn more about technology, yet it's never enough. The hackers seem to be the only ones to keep up with everything. Sometimes I find it difficult to explain to my parents why wasn't the dial-up connection working properly. On the other hand, I am a complete stranger in a discussion between Electronics or Cybernetics students. Honestly speaking, I haven't got the slightest idea about what they're talking about.

Still, the problem is somewhere else. How many of us are simply lost somewhere between "occasional user" and "professionals"? How many of us still prefer CDEx, because Audio Catalyst is too difficult to operate? Or choose to print their archives because a database is hard to learn how to work on?

Meanwhile, let's say, local businessmen must learn how to operate the e-procurement system. Some just can't. They are the ones to disappear - these are the first signs of the rupture to come. PC, Internet, broadband, integration, reliability - these are not the words of a new wooden language, but the very essence of the world to come (for us I mean, Eastern countries; for others it's already a reality). It's already too much to learn - specializations are required all the time. The IT industry is about to face a moment of crisis. New alliances are signed everyday and new ones are about to come. Eventually until there's nothing left, but two enormous corporations. The battle is still on the level of imposing one's standards or products. All is internal recipes meant to build a new product, so good that everyone will adopt it, imposing the new technology.

But, until all is clear and Moore's law stops functioning, the society itself will face a short moment of crisis. Windows/vs./Mac; communication/vs./loneliness; Oracle/vs./IBM; e-banking/vs./tip the waitress. It won't be a corporate confrontation, but a war against lifestyles, national and continental cultures and, eventually, a confrontation of individuals. Then we may start again.

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