What's a Luddite? And who's our one and only?
My mom sent me an email not long ago asking me what a Luddite was, since she'd recently discovered my website via my Twitter feed. To my wife's horror, my mom definitely keeps tabs on my life more via Twitter and by reading my ZDNet blog than by me actually corresponding with her. Of course, that's why she's a Luddite. To answer my mom's question, I gave her the current meaning of the word (someone who eschews the use of technology, sometimes because they believe it is damaging to our lives, but often because it's easier to reject something they don't understand) and then turned to Wikipedia for the historical meaning. I had first heard of Luddites reading The Difference Engine (still reading it, by the way - it's among the several books that was set aside briefly so I could just blast through Slash), but I could hardly tell my mom to go check out this great piece of historical fiction about the Industrial Revolution in 19th century Britain. She looks at my Twitter feed because I don't call her enough and she lives in Seattle, not because she's anywhere near as geeky as I am. Fortunately, Wikipedia had a picture of a Luddite worth sharing: Nice looking guy, huh? Quite the fashion plate. It figures that they were largely textile manufacturers. Here's the important chunks of the Wikipedia definition:
The Luddites were a social movement of British textile artisans in the early nineteenth century who protested—often by destroying mechanized looms—against the changes produced by the Industrial Revolution, which they felt were leaving them without work.
The Luddite movement, which began in 1811, took its name from the fictive Ned Ludd [that's Ned in the picture]. For a short time the movement was so strong that it clashed in battles with the British Army. Measures taken by the government included a mass trial at York in 1812 that resulted in many executions and penal transportation.
Isn't Wikipedia great? I'm just glad my wife doesn't look like old Ned there.