Back to my post about what art music lovers can learn from technologists …

That would be this post here: Geeks, Clem Kadiddlehopper, and Steve Jobs: Lessons for Music Insiders from the World of Technology.

And here is a related post where the author bemoans the insanity of putting more buttons on a device than is needed in any sane sense of the world. Go read it.

Do you understand that his parents are simply trying to get their TV to work without inadvertently signaling alien spaceships? Do you understand that they are not stupid, unadventurous, or timid, but annoyed that the remote is in fact stupidly designed? That, perhaps after one has seen ten presidents come and go and witnessed everything from the invention of penicillin to the moon landing, being forced to wend one’s way through an arbitrary maze of useless buttons like a lab rat isn’t diverting and fun but tedious?

And the stupidity doesn’t stop with the design. The design stupidity is compounded by the marketing stupidity that seriously thinks a product with 58 buttons is anywhere near market-ready.

Do you understand that most people feel the same way about music that requires an hourlong lecture beforehand? No one wants to sit through an hourlong lecture to turn on their TV, either. Not even Alex Ross. They just want the thing to turn on and work.

I am stopping just a hair short of saying that music that requires an hourlong lecture to even begin to grasp it is as stupidly designed as that 58-button remote control, but that hair is getting thinner daily. It’s being gradually eroded by the self-congratulatory attitude of the art-music cognoscenti who break their arms patting themselves on the back over their adventurousness, trendiness, fabulous shoes, athleticism, BO that smell like roses, and generally all-around superior DNA.

Be it music or their TV, the vast majority of people just want it to work. And they aren’t stupid for it. They just aren’t geeks. Or at least, not your flavor of geek. As I stated in that article I wrote, Alex Ross might love to pore over a pocket score before going to a Berg opera, but he’d probably flail and scream if he were forced to pore over a manual for an Ubuntu installation. The various tribes of Geek don’t often speak one another’s language. That fellow’s dad in the linked article above may well be a bonsai tree geek who would be happy to collar Ross and tell him all about pot-training a pepper tree, and also look mystified when Ross wandered off unconverted.

My oldest brother, who despises uncooperative computers and also likes his music to just work, could tell you more than you could possibly want to know about the history of the carburetor designs for every American car ever built. Did you ever wonder why Chrysler product starters sounded like braying donkeys during the 70s? He could tell you.

What? You never noticed the sound of a Chrysler starter? Nor that it was distinctive from nearly everything else on the road? How could you have missed it? It sounded like the opening credits to Hee-Haw. How uncurious of you.

This is all the fault of schools that don’t teach engineering basics to kids early enough.

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