Knowing History Helps?

One person in Slashdot utters these interesting words (emphasis mine):

You should feel dumb. This is your TRADE. You should know at least a little about it’s history. If you don’t recognize names like Ken Thompson and Charles Babbage, you are in a sorry state indeed.

Do you want to know how it helps? It helps you to appreciate where it came from, the work involved in creating these machines and the passion others have had for them. It would help you to understand where YOU fit in the grand scheme of things, and it’ll help you to have a little pride in your work. It’s all about respect. It’s about respecting the genius that made your trade possible, respecting the machine they have built and respecting yourself enough to do the best job you can. As a man who works with computers, you have to live up to the promise of your forebears. No one expects you to be another Babbage or Thompson, but you have a duty to yourself to understand the commitment they had and reflect at least some of it.

You may think of yourself as just someone who fixes computers, but you aren’t. You are a steward of the legacy of those that came before, all of us are. All of us have a duty to maintain the tradition and memory of these men. Without there contributions and endless hours of work and passion for the machine, we wouldn’t even have computers.

So, pick up a book. Read. The history of our trade is a glorious thing, full of great men and brilliant engineering. Only through it’s study can we hope to go as far as they did.

Another puts it like this:

The point is, there will always be a large element of society, at any age, which is both ignorant and uninterested in the history of anything. Most of these people will remain in the realm of Average Consumer, while the inquisitive will go forth, research the past, and build the future. The danger comes from the past-less few who simply abuse the tools that are available to them, or arguably worse, become the leaders who direct the doers of society, with little grip on why the wheels of progress turn a certain way, and no concern for how they’re powered to enable to future. Because when the percieved joy is in reaching the destination, rather than within the journey itself, it tends to be one hell of a bumpy ride that doesn’t exactly pave a smooth road for those who follow.

However, one gets disappointed:

Where does one draw the line between useful information and cool things to talk about at a party?

So, in addition to my two-point theory about why we should study history:

  • To understand why things are the way they are
  • To know the mistakes committed by people and not to commit them again.

I also got more points:

  • Respecting forefathers, respecting their artifacts and respecting yourself. (Where applicable 🙂 )
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