RTFM

Growing up in the 90’s was pretty sweet. There was economic surplus and good music playing on the radio. The schools I attended had very little if no computer curriculum beyond typing proficiency. When I took an “advanced computer applications” course I was able to finish the 3 months of Photoshop tutorials in a week. The rest of the term I spent hacking on linux, a network I built, and C.

I was not the only student who needed technological challenges beyond what the school could offer. My friends and I ran the computer network. It wasn’t official, but we poked, prodded, and hacked our way in to every facet of the schools computer network. We had warez servers, irc, maps of network printers, free printing, and a shared record of how to circumvent every “nanny” app on all of the different computers.

The mischievousness of our actions is not the only thing that kept us from asking adults how to accomplish our tech goals. The teachers simply didn’t know how to do it. We lived in an environment were if we wanted to learn something we had to find out ourselves.

There is a wealth of knowledge that is freely available to anyone who takes the time to look for it. There are libraries, book stores, college campuses with approachable professors, and Google. With a few keystrokes one can get all of the information required for almost any project they could conceive. My friends and I were able to utilize these resources to our advantage.

As the Internet matured and we joined IRC channels and newsgroups it was par for the course to be scolded for asking questions that could be easily answered if one just looked into the available resources. I feel that today I am a better person for learning as much as I did on my own. I feel that I am more independent and stronger.

Today when others ask me a question that can easily be answered by searching online I am flummoxed. Perhaps some people are afraid of the responsibility that comes with the self determination that is achieved when knowledge is taken upon ones self.

Maybe I’m wrong, and we should all be infinitely patient. Classes should be held back for the lowest common denominator as they ask others who figured out the subject matter by actually researching it. What do you think? Am I just developing the *nix neck beard, or is there really something to the philosophy of RTFM?

P.S. If you didn’t know this is what RTFM stands for.

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