When I say simply using a computer is a mediated experience, I mean that it is mediated by the way the program's designer has designed the program, by its use and placement of buttons and other graphical objects, by its behavior to user interaction, and most impotantly by the limits of its capabilities. When you are programming, you can make the program look and feel however you like, and respond however you think it should, and make it capable of computing any problem that can be computed. Hows that for a power trip? As Ellen Ullman points out, programmers often take this power trip to the point where they hate to think of users actually using the program! It is as if a master artisan has constructed the perfect violin, and now cannot stand to see it be played. To the artisan, as to the programmer, the joy of the creation flows out of the act of creating itself, and any use would spoil the perfection in some way. To them, as Weizenbaum points out, programming is an end in itself, not a means to an end, such as solving a difficult problem or designing the world's most useful word processor.

  authored by mip@netspace.org