Chat is the CLI is the word

I studied liberal arts. At some point I tried computer science, but I felt like I didn't do too great in the math classes, so I switched.

I did really well physics and logic, but math lost me at some level. It stopped being logical and became dogmatic. And the same sort of thing happens in computer science, just reversed. At some level of abstraction, computer science stops being about math and becomes more about language. In fact, I remember this article that described how unix systems attracts liberal arts majors.

Here's a long, nice quote:

If there's nothing different about UNIX people, how come so many were liberal-arts majors? It's the love of words that makes UNIX stand out. (...)

With UNIX, text — on the command line, STDIN, STDOUT, STDERR — is the primary interface mechanism: UNIX system utilities are a sort of Lego construction set for word-smiths. Pipes and filters connect one utility to the next, text flows invisibly between. Working with a shell, awk/lex derivatives, or the utility set is literally a word dance.

Working on the command line, hands poised over the keys uninterrupted by frequent reaches for the mouse, is a posture familiar to wordsmiths (especially the really old guys who once worked on teletypes or electric typewriters). It makes some of the same demands as writing an essay. Both require composition skills. Both demand a thorough knowledge of grammar and syntax. Both reward mastery with powerful, compact expression.

My first writing colleague was also the first colleague I had that ran Linux on his home computer. I kid you not!


Up until now, I've never recommended anyone I know to install Linux. But with Ubuntu on Windows, they could taste the Linux command line in the safe nest of the flag. Sure, there was Cygwin and Babun, but they were versions compiled for Windows. Ubuntu on Windows runs software that is actually compiled for Linux.

There's also OS X, and I guess a lot of them prefer it. Few of them, however, dip into the shell. Perhaps I should not get my hopes up.

But then there's also this chatUI thing going on, which is sort of an extension of the command line.

In essence, these are good tech times for those who prefer to give commands using their words, and not their fingers.

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