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March 30, 2004

IDE or buggy Office package?

I'm on a road trip, so that explains less blogging than the norm. Anyway, reading a little cog. sci., I thought of a funny little analogy to do with software since they use terms like the "computational mind" and "mental modules" all the time. Back in the day, the head-scientists used to think that our brain was like an Integrated Dev. Environment in a multi-purpose language (think C++). You boot up the OS and when you need to do word processing, you hack yourself a "lite" word processing program. When you need something to do graphic design, you hack yourself a design program, etc. Need a language? Get the development team of your society to give you some inputs so you can write up some code that'll allow you to communicate.

Today, the majority seems to believe that the mind is made of separate modules that are "content-rich." To move with the software analogy, you boot up, and you have a whole "Office" system set up. You just point & click with a tried & tested vanilla user interface. Of course, that imposes some limitations, and the configuration files aren't very flexible. But for your grandmother, it gets the job done....

Posted by razib at 07:36 PM