Why is Computing Important?
We just thought at first we could use electronic devices to compute numerical expressions, and then we thought we could invent languages to formulate programs, and then we realized that computers are not only good with numbers but they can also record all sorts of information and control all sorts of machines. Then we delved into the information's structure with the relational model and last we generalized the communication with the Internet. Seventy years after the construction of the first electronic computers, computing is ubiquitous and regulates most of our affairs all over the world. If computing has spread so fast, if it has introduced so far-reaching changes in all processes, it must have got the heart of the matter. But of what matter actually? Of civilization.
The human being is able to speak — that is biology. But once we began writing. That was not an innovation in language, because we wrote at first the same things that we had already been speaking for a long time. But it was an innovation in text. We began constructing larger texts, and these were not blown away by the time, they persisted instead. They were revised and enhanced, and they got better, our knowledge grew. They got fixed, this being useful for regulating society through contracts. Inventing writing, civilization made a great leap forward.
Another step was achieved with the introduction of movable type printing in the 15th century. That was not an innovation in language, that was an innovation in text, too. The hand-writings that already existed were printed. With the use of printing, ideas and knowledge were wide spread, and that changed the world. It led to a new form of civilization based upon open discussion and science.
Computing is an innovation in text, too. Electronic devices store text and carry it. Texts get to be immediately available all over the world. Texts become much larger, moreover the publishing costs shrink. Texts get much sounder, because its coherence is granted without gap. Not only this, computers let us query the text and get some parts of it represented in other ways as they were introduced. That was not possible with hand-writings and printed books. The automated handling of text opens up a lot of possibilities for its evaluation and manipulation.
Computing is not just important, it is crucial. What we make of it will determine the future of the human being. It is not just a tool, it touches the roots of the civilization.