wetware /wet'weir/ [prob. from the novels of Rudy Rucker] n.
(from The Jargon File)
- The human nervous system, as
opposed to computer hardware or software. "Wetware has 7 plus or minus 2
- Human beings (programmers, operators, administrators)
attached to a computer
system, as opposed to the system's hardware or software. See liveware,
(the bit about "7 plus or minus 2 temporary registers" is an allusion to
a famous article by George Miller, more than 35
years old now, called
"The Magical Number 7 Plus or Minus 2", which suggests that we humans
have an effective limit of between 5 and 9 somethings --numbers, letters,
etc.-- that we can hold in memory at once without some kind of chunking.
Typical computer nerd humor... See a discussion thread from Steven Harnad's cognition empire for further elaboration)
How does one capture the attention of an undergraduate audience, such
that they become personally engaged in what you are trying to show
and tell? This perennial problem vexes all college teachers, and most
evolve more-or-less satisfactory toolkits, often based on amalgams of
humor and surprise. I often have occasion to teach the use of computers
as information access tools, and face the hurdles of unfamiliar hardware and
software conventions which students must master in order to get to the
real reason to use computers. Why bother, except for compulsion?
Introduction of the concept of
wetware provides a focus for the personal responsibility
that lies at the heart of taking charge of one's own education, and
reduces to a handy formula:
Andy Rundquist has used the concept to name his company.
Here's his explanation,
along with a nice quote from Rudy Rucker's original.
Everyone is responsible for his or her own
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