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

Marc S. webdevpost at delime.com
Thu Feb 1 22:25:15 CST 2007

On 2/1/07, Steven Streight <steven.streight at gmail.com> 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.
> We need to wake up. The Blog has made the everyday person, from pre-teens to
> seniors, Web Masters, to a tiny but significant degree. I learned HTML by
> tweaking a Blogger blog. Now I have RSS, YouTube embeds, Swicki custom
> search engines, etc. Used to have Digg feedroll and Lockergnome feedroll,
> Amazon widgets, etc.
> My point is: have you noticed all the fancy widgets and unique designs of
> MySpace blogs or WordPress blogs?
> The bloggers are into Web 2.0 big time, and they are "non-techie". We tend
> to think the few people we know who are resistant to change and are less
> computer savvy than IT guys, that these non-geeks are somehow "stuck" in
> their ignorance. But I'm amazed at how many people are getting sophisticated
> with their little blogs and ecommerce sites, not to mention eBay and Amazon
> savvy.

I very respectfully think that the Internet and statistics about
Internet users are not the right sources of information to use in
determining the average person's affinity (or lack thereof) for things

Ecommerce may be booming, but so are incomes. Blogging sites may be
recording more and more users, but the global population is also

I say these things not to refute or decry anyone's statistics, but to
recognise that statistics have their usefulness, and also that a
statistic can be found to support just about any point of view.

I do not think that knowing how to copy and paste code to generate
tubes, diggs, swickis or gnomes, whatever the heck some of those
things are, makes one a web master. No more than being able to stick a
package in the microwave makes one a master chef, no matter the
diversity of preshrunk cuisine one can defrost.

In fact, like an exploded microwave, many of those hype-induced
creations are little more than messy garbage.

I agree that blogs, you tubing (I wonder if I'm going to get into
trouble a la the "Thou shalt not use our brand name as a verb because
nobody *photoshops*, they 'use Adobe Photoshop [TM] [SM] [R]'") and
such are enjoying a tremendous upswing in activity *now*. But how many
of those creations are being spewed out by teens caught in the digital
game of my myspace is better than yours? How many will be abandoned in
2 years? 3 years?

And to call blogs are sophisticated? Please! Angst-ridden teens have
been keeping them for aeons. Back then they were called diaries and
journals. The primary reason for their sudden explosion is *because*
they have been made so simple that even a caveman could do... err...
it... with apologies to any reptilianly-affiliated companies.

If you look at Amazon's new Askville service and see how many poor
newbs are disclosing everything bar their credit card numbers on there
in the misguided, mistaken belief that they're reaching Amazon
customer service and not joe user you'll get a sense of how many
clueless, very unsure users there are out there.

Cell phones are a useful analogy, because of the relatively recent
upswing in adoption rates. The damn things are all but ubiquitous now.
But having a cell phone does not make one tech savvy. Not when the
only functions one can carry out are making and receving calls. It
just means you've learned to use a different kind of phone to do the
same things.

Certain things are getting easier to do on the Internet. And as a
result, the people who may have wanted to do them before but didn't
have a clue how to manage this are doing them. But I do not for a
minute think that those who are not technically inclined are being
converted in droves.


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