[thelist] long, but gentle, rant about the non-ubiquity of technological knowledge (was RE: Newsletter as HTML Email)

Judah McAuley judah at wiredotter.com
Thu Feb 1 13:14:29 CST 2007

Steven Streight wrote:
> With all due respect Joel, your thesis contradicts all the reports I get
> from Nielsen Net Ratings and other internet usage trackers on how ecommerce,
> for one example, is skyrocketing.
> Anecdotal evidence is good, but not conclusive in the face of well
> researched statistics.
<snip really good stuff />

Just to throw out some more anecdotal evidence, the luddites in my 
family are the engineers. For a long time, my Sister (1 year of college 
and works in a bakery) was the only person to have a cell phone, a 
computer, a digital camera and a printer.

I've been a web developer for 12 years now and my home computer is an 
800 Mhz P3. I just got a cell phone again. The only reason we have a 
printer now is that my wife demanded one so she could print out photos 
of our new baby.

My uncle is an engineer at Textronix. He doesn't have a computer, a cell 
phone, an answering machine or a camera. His television is older than I 
am and still has push buttons for channel changing.

My mother's partner is a programmer and desktop support guy. He finally 
has a home computer, but frequently does his emailing through a ham 
radio to internet gateway. There are far more radios in that house than 
any other technological device.

But my wife's grandparents (all 80+) are sitting by the computer all the 
time waiting for me to send more baby pictures that they can forward to 
their friends and print out to show off at their retirement community. 
They aren't exactly web savvy, but they are willing to learn the 
technology they need to if it will get them things they can't get otherwise.

What all does that mean? As far as I can tell, it means that if you 
build something that people really want and try to make it consistent 
and vaguely understandable, then people will figure it out.

The set of people that want something just because its new and fancy 
certainly exists, but those people are the easy ones to get. I don't 
care for technology for technologies sake. But if you make it really 
matter to me, then I'll adopt it and figure out what I need to.

My $0.02


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