I was pointed to an article today called Kids Can’t Use Computers… And This Is Why It Should Worry You and it bugged me so much I had to respond at more length than was available in a FaceBook post.
The article covers a few topics, some of which I agree with, but the general theme is “you don’t understand the inner workings of computers and I do, so you’re stupid”. There are (currently) 800 or more comments and growing so I assume it has gained some traction.
It’s written by a Computing teacher who is frustrated by people who come to him for help. I thought it was a teacher’s job to help people learn, but hey, maybe he’s just having a bad day. Unfortunately this guy seems to believe that the reason people don’t understand is, not because the consumer electronics industry generally sucks at User Experience, but because these lazy sods simply refuse to devote their lives to understanding the internal workings of their computers and phones.
Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been a geek in IT for thirty years or more. I love technology and I love tinkering with the internals of computers, but I’m frankly embarrassed to be associated with the industry sometimes.
I can usually hack my way through a problem because I’m used to the nuances of software and hardware, but if some bewildered soul comes to me and says “The computer is saying Error Code: 0x32C8. What does that mean?”, I’m much more likely to look sheepish on behalf of the whole industry and say “Yeah, it’s not your fault. There’s no possible way you could know that. Let me do some arcane magic now and fix that and let’s pretend you never saw it”. I really feel for people when their computer makes them feel stupid and I need them to realise it’s not their fault.
So here are a few of the points that made me mutter “Bullshit!” under my breath as I flicked through the article this afternoon. Continue reading