It has been my experience that Geeks, Techies and computer industry pundits have a tendency to be arrogant and contemptuous of others who do not posses the level of technical understanding that they suppose themselves to have.
This trait of course is not restricted to those involved in computer technology. I’ve met more than a few auto mechanics who were as arrogant as any arrogant computer Techie I’ve come into contact with.
It seems to me however, that in the computer industry it is epidemic; from low level consumer oriented technical support at some of the popular retail chains, to software developers who choose to forget that the Computer World/Internet is populated by average users who generally lack sophisticated skills.
This arrogance is counterintuitive to a new trend in system and Internet security; people driven security. A trend that is exemplified by WOT, (Web of Trust) an Internet community whose purpose is to allow its members to exchange their personal knowledge about a web site’s trustworthiness, vendor reliability, privacy, and child safety by way of an Internet Browser add-on. It seems that people driven security without arrogance has arrived.
I never fail to be amazed when I read the barrage of techno language and techno babblespeak aimed at that mythical computer user who, in reality, doesn’t exist. The computer industry needs to come to an understanding that there is a substantial knowledge gap that exists in the real world of computing?
Recently I read an article by Larry Dignan, Editor in Chief of ZDNet, in which he described the continuing debate surrounding the viability of the anti-virus industry. It seems at some senior levels of the industry, it is a commonly held belief that anti-virus software is virtually worthless since it cannot keep up with rapidly evolving threats. The proposed solution then is the elimination of anti-virus software.
In my view this is an arrogant and condescending approach to a real world problem, a real world inhabited by real people, and not just by Techies who are familiar with all of the issues surrounding system security. This is the type of pseudo advice that could lead to chaotic consequences for a typical user.
Fact: Typical users simply don’t know how to protect themselves adequately.
The reality is, the majority of computer users are undereducated when it comes to the dangers and threats that the Internet poses to their machines, and to their personal privacy.
Anti-virus applications are designed to help average users; not the technically sophisticated. So, of course there is a need for them.
I have a computer sophisticated Internet friend, one who teaches University level Computer Sciences, who frequently reminds me “Too much security is still not enough”. Sadly, he is right.
I find most tech people (remember I am one), can’t see past the end of their nose when it becomes necessary to look at the broader picture. For example, it would be helpful to develop a view that encompasses the various degrees of computer competency that exists.
The following comment, from one of the forums I participate in sums it up nicely, “Until folks stop trying to exploit/cripple/destroy others, we will need anti-virus software as part of the mix of security solutions. To those who think not … try a virus … you’ll change your mind.”