Part of the Computing fundamentals glossary:

1. A Luddite is a person who dislikes technology, especially technological devices that threaten existing jobs or interfere with personal privacy.

2. A Luddite is someone who is incompetent when using new technology.

The word Luddite has an interesting origin in pop culture of the early 1800's. Legend has it that a young man name Ned Ludd broke an expensive knitting machine in Nottingham, England. Because Ned was considered to be "feeble-minded" by his boss, he wasn't held financially responsible for the broken equipment. Afterwards, when factory equipment broke, the damage was always blamed on Ned Ludd.

During the Industrial Revolution, when factory workers organized to express their dissatisfaction with work conditions, the legend of Ned Ludd was politicized. One well-known method of protest was for workers to dress up in disguise and visit a factory owner late at night. The workers, claiming they had been sent by General Ned Ludd, demanded changes in the workplace. The invocation of Ned Ludd's name made it clear to the factory owner that if the demands weren't met, the owner's expensive machinery would be destroyed. The Luddites enjoyed a kind of Robin Hood reputation and the movement was generally supported by the public until a protest at a Lancashire mill went terribly wrong and several people were killed.

This was last updated in June 2008
Posted by: Margaret Rouse

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