Pervasive Cluelessness

If you don’t know about the Julie Amero case, you probably should. The case says all kinds of disturbing things about authorities who don’t take responsibility for the technology under their control, prosecution on the basis of public outrage, total failures of forensic procedures, and media witch hunts. The case has been written about all over the place. Here’s a recent sample:

http://www.internetnews.com/bus-news/article.php/3668451

> All she appears to be guilty of is being utterly clueless about computers.

This seems to be an all-too-common theme. While I think we can all appreciate the support, in terms of outrage over the conviction itself, I wish people wouldn’t keep sounding the “clueless” drum.

(If you don’t have any background on the case, then you’re ignorant of it, correct? You might want to do a search on “Julie Amero.” I’ll wait.)
I recall, way back when I was first getting involved with info tech, an editiorial in “The Computing Teacher” (as it happened). It stated that, even if you didn’t have a computer, the simple fact that you subscribed to the magazine meant you were more tech savvy than 95% of your colleagues. (It was undoubtedly correct.)

Most people only *think* they know about computers. OK, so these smart-alecs know that turning off a monitor means you don’t turn off the computer. Good for them. (I can recall working on machines where, if you did turn off the monitor, you lost the session. Guess who’d be laughing at the smart-alecs in that case …)

I work in some fairly esoteric areas of technology. Any of the bloggers, and even tech rag columnists, that have made comments about cluelessness (on the part of Julie, the school, or even our good friend Mark) would be similarly woefully ignorant of things I take for granted. Everybody is ignorant, only on different topics (to quote another Mark).

I’d say that one of the important points to be made about this whole situation is that society at large is clueless about the technology that is increasingly important in all of our lives. And that includes those of us who supposedly know about it …

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  • Jason DePriest

    Oh my dear God. I read about this case before the trial. I had no idea a jury actually convicted her.

    That is just plain ridiculous.

    Her lawyer was in the late stages of multiple sclerosis and exhibited symptoms during trial (including asking questions out of order)? IANAL, but could the judge have done something on the defendant’s behalf to get her better counsel?

    A trial’s verdict should be based solely on how effectively the lawyers provide facts to the jury and the judge.

    This really has nothing to do with the jury (or Julie) not understanding the technology. It is the job of the lawyers to explain the *facts* to the jury so that they can make an intelligent decision.

    Actually, jurors with preconceived notions about technology would probably just taint the verdict with their own prejudice. I.e. “Everybody knows how to turn off a freakin’ monitor!” or “I can’t even program my VCR, so I can relate.”

    Irrelevant.

    She had a bad lawyer. That is the only fact that matters in this case.

    But dang.. it could certainly set a devastating precedent if the verdict stands *and* she gets a stiff penalty.

  • http://sun.soci.niu.edu/~rslade p1

    > It is the job of the lawyers to explain the *facts* to the jury so
    > that they can make an intelligent decision.

    And if the *lawyers* don’t understand the facts? …