On 16 May 2008, at 06:50, Matthew Pennell wrote:

In my experience, a large proportion of computer/web users struggle to understand online concepts that we expert users take for granted. Many regular surfers have no idea how to interact with a scroll bar - and there are lots of people who don't know how the address bar of their browser works!

Matthew, my experience tallies with yours. At least half of the people I work with (I mean clients, not co-workers) are not very IT-savvy at all. It brings to mind the Blackadder line: "I am one of these people who are quite happy
to wear cotton, but have no idea how it works."

In some extreme cases this seems to extend to an almost willful ignorance, as if they feel that learning how to operate their computer would somehow diminish them. It is certainly true that the older the client the more likely this seems to be -- although I would certainly not generalise too much as I know plenty of completely computer- literate 'silver surfers'. I find it frustrating when they stubbornly refuse to learn what the most basic controls are on their browser, but unless it has a negative impact on the project I generally ignore it.

In any case the evidence would suggest that it is a generational thing, and that should come as no surprise. As someone born at the back end of the 60s, I can understand it, because I personally find the more leading edge web technologies hard to keep up with - much more so than, say, people 15 years my junior who live and breathe that stuff.

It's a matter of degree, I guess. People absorb information at a fundamental level early in their lives, and I think that beyond a certain age they stop absorbing it quite so easily and have to work at *learning* it. That includes information about current technology. If a new technology comes out when you're in your 40s it's probably going to be harder for you to pick it up than for your 16 year old nephew.

The old chestnut about adults having to get their kids to programme the VCR for them are clich├ęs, sure, but based on a lot of truth.

Rick Lecoat

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