A Young Hacker's Interactive Primer
:: FAQ

This project grew out of my fear that I might not have turned out to be the geek I am had Windows 95 been available in 1988. Back then when you wanted to fiddle with a computer you were pretty much forced to use a command line interface. You learned catalog, dir, and ls, or you never saw what what on a floppy disk. Your choices were to learn a CLI or not use computers at all.

Now kids are sitting at graphical user interfaces before they're even in school. They click and drag with a dexterity their parents can't match. Most still have a CLI available to them if they dig deep enough in their application menus, but there's little reason for them to investigate it. I like to think I'd be one of the kids who shuns the shallow learning curve of a graphical user interface for the power of the command line, but I know lots of smart, inquisitive people who've never bothered. I figure anything that gets more people to try out a CLI helps.

Not that this project is really about CLIs vs. GUIs. Indeed, the later stages of this tutorial will take place in a GUI. What I'm hoping to provide kids with is a computing space where they can try things out, explore, and learn how computers really work without risking their parents Quicken data and their own Wintendo. Mostly, I just want to try to foster in kids the hacker spirit as hinted at in ESR's How To Become A Hacker FAQ.

I figured a system that presents itself as a series of puzzles might be more fun than a traditional tutorial. Sorta like Card's novel Ender's Game. The title is, of course, a reference to Stephenson's, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer as found in The Diamond Age.
Content copyright © 2003, Ry4an Brase. Visual design copyright © 2003, Adam Particka via OSWD.