I heard recently of a senior manager who has to quit his and re-open his browser every time he wants to search for something on Google as it is set as his startup page and he knows no other way to get back there. This was a stark reminder of just how challenging many people still find technology. Sure things are getting easier, and more people are comfortable using their ubiquitous mobile computing devices than ever before, but for many, possibly most, it is still all a bit mysterious.
Even if some understand what effect the buttons many more people are vague what they actually do. How many know about the Google Page Rank Algorithm? How many understand how their Facebook newsfeed is constructed? How many know that the Internet and the web are not the same thing? These are increasingly important gaps in people’s understanding. Our software is increasingly shaping our lives. The ideology of algorithms affects influence and power. Calling it “digital”, saying “I don’t do technology” and keeping things at arms length isn’t good enough.
This is no one’s fault. The rate of change is getting ever faster. Not everyone is a geek or a tinkerer, or has the time to play and discover. Not everyone is curious. Not yet. I believe they have to learn to be. They owe it to themselves and the rest of us. We all need to help those going slower than us to catch up.
Someone on a course I ran recently described me as an alien. I think I’m normal. In the future I will be.