"What's the word for those pseudo-hacker-types who just run programs that other people have written?" my wife, Paulette [1], asked me not long ago.

"Script kiddies?" I suggested.

"Yeah! They're everywhere nowadays!" declared PD.

Then she told me what she really meant. There's a proliferation, she has observed, of incredibly shallow persons in all sorts of formerly-artistic fields --- endeavors that used to require talent and creativity and years of practice to learn the fundamentals. Now just about anybody who pays the entry fee can plunge in, using canned routines and pre-designed templates. These folks crank out flashy presentations, custom web sites, video special effects, promotional posters, etc. And they have not a clue as to what's going on behind the scenes.

What drives Paulette really crazy is that not only do ersatz artists fool lots of customers --- they also fool themselves. They imagine that they are "just as good as" somebody who has invested the time and thought and study to know a subject from the ground up. And they can do all right ... for a while, if they're lucky enough not to go beyond the (unknown to them) limits of their tools.

It's not a new phenomenon. In classical ham radio parlance such people are called "Appliance Operators". Fine fellows, in ordinary times ... but not much use in a real emergency.

TopicSociety - 2002-09-18

(correlates: Comments on LyricalHook, OverQualified, DarwinOnSkillfulBreeders, ...)