Note: Much of this article is summarized in my one-page plan.
I’m trying to do my next big thing—and hopefully, THE next big thing—computer literacy like never before. I’m not trying to build an empire here. It’s just that I find what I do to keep myself viable and cutting-edge in the professional workplace has the seeds of an entire computer literacy education curriculum in it. My goal for myself is just happiness for me and my family. It would be nice to make the world a better place as I go. And so, this is my attempt. My theory is that a stripped-down / runs-anywhere version of Linux / Python is the key.
A computer / software combination (platform) called LAMP (Linux + Apache + MySQL + Perl / PHP / Python) contributed greatly towards making the Web so popular, by allowing anyone to set up a webserver without getting bogged down by expensive software licenses. These components had to be set up just-so, and hosting was expensive and on large rack-mounted servers—but then, a “login” to this computer was put into the hands of a Jack-of-all-trades tech guy—a guy we’d soon all come to know as the “Webmaster”. Since those days, the Webmaster has gone out of fashion, only to be relegated to smaller sites where jack-of-all-trades could still exist. Every major enterprise moved onto subdividing the Webmaster job among dozens of different specialized roles: designers, database administrators, coders, etc.
Today, the power of those same rack servers is in the average cellphone. Simulations of those computers can run in a window on your Mac or PC desktop. And full-fledged stand-alone computers with about the same power are just going on sale for $35. The age of the Webmaster is back upon us… but the skills of that bygone era are lost, or at least written down for a world that barely exists anymore. So, there is need for a new set of rules—enabling that jack-or-jill-of-all-trades to spring back into action. Just someone needs to illuminate the way. And because there is just… so… much… of… everything… these days, a major component of doing this is vast simplification.
So, it’s now time to re-combine those LAMP ingredients for a new age—designed to turn individuals super-powerful in this information age of ours. Less emphasis goes on databases and web servers (MySQL and Apache). More emphasis goes on controlling the platform and wiring things up quickly through APIs (Linux and Python). Taking the database and webserver out of the picture (for now) simplifies things immensely. With a smaller set of tools, you will be able to do more, because you can focus on mastering each. Think of it as becoming a sort of McGuyver (if anyone still remembers that reference) with Linux and Python being the rubber band and paperclip you can use to solve an problem.
Specifically, I propose that Linux and Python, combined with only a few other key ingredients (text editor, revision control system, and computer emulator) constitutes a timeless and obsolescence-proof toolset applicable to a staggeringly broad set of problems—from automating menial tasks in your own life, to building an empire. This defines the precisely correct cohesive atomic unit of technology—an instrument worth mastering like the violin—starting right now… today… this moment.
NOTE: My top priority on my personal blog now is actually getting my MikeLev.in/UX distribution of Linux ready for public consumption. I have it working nicely at the office, but I have a few details to take care of. Check back soon!
The rest of my professional activity for the rest of my life will likely revolve around using this platform to great effect—because it’s really just that worthwhile. I’ll try to apply it in unlimited creative ways—connecting dots nobody else saw, and adapting to whatever winds of change come our way. I’ll gradually transition my work at the office over to this platform, and with their permission, open source version 2 of my latest project, which is about to go public in a closed hosted fashion.
In short, I plan to train you in high tech martial arts on a weapon specifically designed to be easy to handle, always on you, and effective in the battle against obsolescence. Like HTML making the Web possible by virtue of its sheer simplicity, I propose that Linux / Python on a runs-anywhere virtual computer is as close as you can get to that in a code execution platform today.
And unlike Codeaccadamey that puts type-in-and-run code first, putting emphasis on a magical language and execution environment—I put emphasis on having that code execution environment under your direct and immediate control, and focus first… on… the… login!
- Lamp (technolibraries.wordpress.com)
- Python for the Enterprise: Holy Grail or Flying Circus? Here’s what we think (newrelic.com)
- Python Ecosystem – An Introduction (mirnazim.org)
- Getting Started with Python (i-programmer.info)
- How do I become a computer programmer? (rasremmos.wordpress.com)