Re: New TECHWR-L Poll Question - OoO

Subject: Re: New TECHWR-L Poll Question - OoO
From: Dick Margulis <margulisd -at- comcast -dot- net>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 07 Dec 2004 14:20:56 -0500

Doug Grossman wrote:

Again, just because someone uses a computer all day in their job, this does *not* mean that they necessarily need to know Word, Frame, or anything else inside and out. Maybe all they need to do is use blank Word docs to create letters every once in awhile. This does not make them dumb; it only points up the fact that they may not have any *need* to know any computer software at a detailed level.......and yet, they still use computers all day long, and can still hold on to their jobs. Further, believe it or not, they may still have a need/desire to be on mailing lists, and not have any specific need other than that to use an out-of-office auto-reply.

Yes, I heard that argument made eloquently by the guy who writes the personal technology column for the Wall Street Journal. It was pretty convincing: the computer should just be an appliance. Turn it on and it does what you expect it to. Sounds great.

Then I thought about that a little.

Well, we already have appliances like that. Put in the bread. Push down the handle. A couple minutes later you've got toast. If the factory default darkness setting doesn't appeal to you, you can look around for something that might be a darkness control (some of them are designed quite intuitively) and fiddle with it.

And we have cell phones. They have lots of features you don't have to use and that don't get in your way if you don't choose to learn about them. The salesperson in the cell phone store can tell you all you really need to know in terms of user instructions in about five minutes. You can even practice while you're in the store. If you _want_ to learn about other features, though, you might have to devote some cycles to reading about them.

So if you want to have a computer that's perfect for the smart but busy executive who doesn't have time to read the manual, it has to be designed like a cell phone or a BlackBerry. Turn it on and less than a second later there's a blank document ready for you to start typing. There's a button to send the document as an email, another button to save it as a contact, another button to turn it into a letter and print it for you. type a few numbers and the document turns into a spreadsheet. It could be done. Maybe someday it will.

In the meantime, these same smart but busy executives go out and buy new cars every year or two, and by the time they've owned it for three days they are itching to take their golf buddies for a ride so they can show off all the neat new gizmos it came equipped with. THAT they have time to learn about.

So the problem with people who can't be bother to learn how their computers work isn't that they're dumb. Or smart. Or busy. Or not busy. The problem is that they're inconsiderate jerks. If they cared to be participants in a democratic society, in which rights are balanced by responsibilities toward others, they would take the time to figure out how to configure their out of office assistants. But narcissists with an infinite sense of entitlement aren't required to do that, apparently. And that, friends, is the problem. Blame the technology if you want, but I say the fault lies with the people who misuse it.



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RE: New TECHWR-L Poll Question - OoO: From: Doug Grossman

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