Have Accessibility Based Advancements Made the Computer Better— or Worse?

Over the course of the past few decades, the computer has quickly made itself an indispensable staple of our lives. There is evidence of this everywhere, almost everything we interact with in our lives is either made up of a computer or in some way reliant on one. But as computers have become more and more advanced and at the same time more and more tied to our lives, have these advancements truly made us better. As computers become more and more advanced, they simultaneously become more and more accessible, both in terms of how many people can operate them and how easy it is for said people to perform said operations. However, this advancement brings with it an oft-overlooked side affect, a decline in computer literacy. In the earliest days of the personal computer, one needed a specific and deep knowledge of a computer in order to operate it to the greatest extent, mostly due to less user friendly user experiences that relied on text based input methods in place of easier to use interaction methods, such as the graphical user interface or GUI for short. Since new accessibility innovations like the GUI have been introduced, countless people who would never have been able to operate a computer before now had a whole new world open to them, but at the same time, the necessity to have such a vast knowledge of the computer one was using was gone. So that is the tradeoff with accessibility-based-innovations in the computer space. So the question is, is it more important to have more well versed users, or more users in general? The reason why such a predicament exists stems around the issue of computer literacy not increasing in accessibility at the same rate computer use did. While it has certainly become substantially easier to learn both software and hardware engineering and design over the past few decades, the ease of use growth rate is nowhere near as substantial as it is for computer use itself. What we need now is for these two ease of use growth rates to meet and then continue to grow with each other, as of they do not, innovation could truly plateau from a lack of ideas from those with enough time and resources to become proficient in computers.

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