One-Click and the Simplification of Technology–Is This a Good or Bad Thing?
Here on XDA-Developers, we tend to cater to everyone’s needs and wants. From the most experienced developer to the newest user, who literally just picked up his/her smartphone exactly 25 minutes ago and is curious about what it can do, anyone can find something that will get them hooked on xda and smartphone modding. The latter of the two groups normally tends to either be too busy to try and sit down and read or simply is not interested on how things work, only caring about the final outcome (I can haz root?!). Funny enough, half of these people will likely never understand what they are truly asking for when they are asking for root and likewise will never open SU as they see it as a perfect way to break the devices, almost taboo if you will.
Now, at this point you are all likely wondering what the title of this article has to do with my little opening rant. Well, because of the meteoric rise in numbers of the second class of people stated above, we have seen a large increase in production of tools to simplify the processes that we carry out in this site. Rooting a device, which can be a rather tedious process depending on how well protected things are has become as simple as opening a batch file that you download from a thread on XDA. However, please do not get me wrong, making things easier has been paramount in allowing humanity to advance to more interesting projects, but as with many of these advancements, there is something to be learned, something that should be taking place inside of the user’s head, creation of neural connections that will allow him or her to later retrieve this knowledge if it ever becomes required for other activities. Sadly, this is not the case due to most processes being automated and the end user simply being interested in the final outcome as previously stated.
Over the last couple of weeks, we have seen some very awesome mods and developments from people who have spent countless hours reading, researching, and risking their investments in the name of science (sort of). One of the most crucial ones was the HBOOT downgrade process for the EVO 3D and the Sensation (I will focus on the 3D one as I am more familiar with it). Out of that thread, if you follow every step as directed by the dev, you will leave with:
- A downgraded device capable of flashing radios, roms (without the need of fastboot), kernels, and more;
- Some basic command knowledge for Linux;
- Experience in flashing images from the bootloader;
- Increased Googling skills;
- and more…
This was as of last week. This week we see that there are a few tools that somewhat automate a big chunk of the process, effectively killing the opportunity to learn very valuable information out of the thread. I am not saying that this will make you a developer overnight, but learning bits and pieces of processes like these certainly will aide you in the future. On top of that, if you rely too much on processes like these, what will happen when one of these fail and you end up with a brick? Will you have the necessary know how to fix your device, or even to understand what went wrong? Don’t you think that understanding how things work before proceeding could potentially save you from a quasi-certain catastrophe? Think of it this way, I will release a tool tomorrow that is supposed to give you S-OFF on your device. All you need to do is turn off the PC and boot it back up from MS-DOS and type the following command (having your device connected):
Then simply reboot your computer. If you had previous knowledge of this, you would understand that I just gave you clear instructions to wipe your computer hard drive as opposed to giving you root on your phone. Did I do this on purpose or simply because I didn’t know what I was doing? Obviously, the example is a tad too obvious, but the point I was trying to illustrate is that tools without knowledge can lead to disaster.
So, this takes us back to the original title and point of this article. If automation is a thing that eventually will allow us to be more efficient and smarter, why is it that when you look at the general level of knowledge it is much lower than when things were manual? Do we simply need to step back and sit down to read how we got to where we are? If you go by the ethos of our site, the answer is “yes”. You are here because you are interested in learning about development and how to expand the capabilities of your devices and not simply to make your phone “kewl” (thanks kyphur). If you don’t learn the path that you are following, you are likely going to get lost.
Thanks for reading and please use your time on XDA wisely.
[Thanks to XDA News Writer PoorCollegeGuy for the image!]