|Superior Structure:||nfoWare Construction Structure|
index.htm nfoWare toolcraft/ Construction Structure (this page)
toolNotes Diary & Job Jar
t000001.htm toolNotes Catalog
You're at the
/toolcraft section of
nfoWare. This is where there is general treatment of toolcraft as well
as a compilation of ToolNotes. The material is designed to assist in
understanding and operation with those tools that are employed in the narration
and development of nfoWare software and other materials. We also want to
create an appreciation for toolcraft itself, and its impacts on software
developers specifically and computer users generally.
Toolcraft is about the tacit perspective and ready-to-hand familiarity that comes with becoming steeped in use of particular tools and technologies. Macintosh and Windows users live and operate in different toolcrafts. Unix and GNU/Linux users have yet another set, as do Java developers. There is specialization within broad toolcrafts as well: the DB2 administrator may have little or no comfort with administration of Microsoft SQL Server, and so on. The Microsoft Office guru may not have any feel for or comfort with Open Office or some other office suite or authoring system, such as TEX. There are important social (engineering) considerations around toolcraft, down to preferences for e-mail software and use of web browsers.
Mostly, we don't notice toolcraft except when we find ourselves on unfamiliarity territory (a Macintosh user sitting down to Windows). It also becomes ensnarled in our social stories about the desirability, efficacy, and suitability of particular toolcrafts. The familiar ones are to be preferred, needless to say.
We also notice toolcraft, indirectly, when a tool fails us or we are otherwise unable to accomplish what we want.
There can be great value in recognizing the presence of toolcraft and its impact on what we are able to do and how we choose to do it.
- Toolcrafts and the way tools appeal to us illustrate the notion of affordance and the relationship and regard we have to our tools and what we seem them as good for.
- The discomfort that we experience with unfamiliar toolcrafts demonstrate a great deal about the difference between syntactic knowledge and conceptual knowledge and difficulties with separating the essence from the accidental in our work with tools, especially in the context of information-processing systems.
- The difference between performance (what we do) and competence (what we understand about it) can be immense. Deficiencies of our conceptual models and stories about what the tool is are often not revealed until we make errors or there are other breakdowns. The adequacy of a remedy or repair can also be impaired by having defective conceptual models.
- The private-language quality of computer toolcraft creates a barrier to entry and shared expertise among information-technology communities and among users of personal computers and software products. It is as if the curse of Babel is alive and well and operating all of the time.
- Toolcraft is craft, and working with toolcraft can be done as craft work. Any craftsmanship around the toolcraft is difficult to transfer to others, but there is little doubt that the craft worker is subject to displacement by others who can perform the work for less cost absent the protections of guilds, geography, and national languages.
- The mastery of toolcraft (not a particular toolcraft) can provide identification of conceptual harmonies and transcend the incidental details that are often confused with what is essential about a tool, methodology, or other approach. Such mastery can also provide greater conceptual integrity in the application of tools and in the integration of tools as instruments of larger undertaking.
With regard to nfoWare, toolcraft shows up in the kinds of tools that are developed as nfoWare. In addition, nfoWare access and development involves particular toolcraft.
This is the section of nfoWare where toolcraft is addressed in a self-conscious and conspicuous way:
- What do we mean by toolcraft?
- What toolcraft does nfoWare depend on, and in what way?
- What toolcraft must be employed to make use of nfoWare, and at what levels?
- What are the different toolcraft requirements for participation in nfoWare development at different levels?
- What toolcraft is delivered or promoted with nfoWare itself?
I have the idea that one can reasonably factor some toolcraft domains for further exploration:
- Browser toolcraft, and the browser as a platform (a nastier problem than I first thought), maybe simply the same as web toolcraft if we consider the provider side as well as the consumer, at some point
- Console applications, which I think of as a kind of Posix-oriented Windows console-mode case, can be used as a cross-over for tools that work in Unix, and GNU/Linux as well as Windows console applications. This illustrates ways that toolcrafts often have common underpinnings and can be harmonized.
- Java technology, with its toolcraft assumptions and discontinuities with underlying platforms
- .NET technology (especially around the ECMA CLI and C# specifications) and its toolcraft (Visual Studio, etc.)
This web page is part of the engineering, construction-management, maintenance, and infrastructure of the nfoWare site. You are welcome to explore this and other construction-structure pages. You'll need your hard hat and safety shoes.