Please, enough is enough, Mr Gates;Opinion

8th October 1999 at 01:00
DEAR Bill Gates,

I was thinking of sending you an e.mail about a man who is fast becoming my hero. Ned Ludd has got a very bad press over the years. After all, he did little more than question our accepted wisdom that "progress" inevitably benefits mankind.

Admittedly Mr Ludd conducted this debate while bringing a large mallet down on top of the Spinning Jenny but his Luddites did have a point of view, certainly in my book.

I was reminded of this earlier in the week while visiting Seattle, home to your wretched Microsoft company. At about three in the afternoon I found myself sitting on a quayside, gazing unhappily across at that island you have just bought your parents.

The cause of my gloom, however, was not envy. It was that, despite my hanging on to a Microsoft helpline for most of last week, I was out of touch with my daughter and unable to read the e.mails Ginny had sent.

The problem, it turns out, is that my palmtop, which I bought because it is supposed to work anywhere in the world, doesn't. And the reason for this is that my Internet server turns out to have an interface dysfunction with Microsoft Windows CE, as installed in my palmtop. Meanwhile, all your so called helpline could suggest was that I traded up to the brand new range of "thumbtops", which would be capable of running Microsoft's Windows '95, '98 and the new, improved Windows 2001.

All of which left me wanting to throw something at your passing motorcruiser and yell "STOP!" For goodness sake, Mr Gates, stop inventing new things and let the human race catch up. Let us spend the next 10 years getting to a stage where all our existing gadgets are compatible with each other - and we all know how to use them.

In my opinion the word "progress" is frequently misused. "Progress" is not a synonym for anything new but a judgment on that which is new. Not every innovation is inherently good. What about GM crops, Mr Gates?

Anyway, that is what I hoped to say. I tried to e.mail you my thoughts, but as you know I have a fatal interface dysfunction so I hope you don't mind the fact that I handwrote this note and attached it to that large mallet that nearly sank you as you passed.

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