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Subject:Re: Reality? Was: HTML vs PDF From:Nora Merhar <nmerhar -at- CHARLESINDUSTRIES -dot- COM> Date:Thu, 12 Mar 1998 14:21:03 -0600
A couple of things:
> Ask yourself, what are these people doing on the web? They are
> information! That is, they are learning. They certainly aren't
Huh? Not being entertained? I wouldn't use the WWW if I wasn't being
entertained. For the most part, I'm not learning anything new--only in
some cases, for instance when I read Salon magazine. Sometimes I use
the WWW for research, but for the most part I read my horoscope, check
out a bulletin board that complains about my local NPR station, see
what dogs are at my local Humane Society. I'm gathering information,
certainly, but not *learning*.
> You say "no one buys VCR's this way", Is this because they don't
Why would I? Maybe I'm the only person in the world whose VCR is not
flashing "12:00", but programming the VCR is the least of my worries
when I go to buy one--in fact, learning to use a product (which I
assume is what you're talking about teaching people on-line) is the
least of my worries no matter what I'm buying. What I want to know is
does it have the features I want, will it do what I want it to do when
I want it done--which no tutorial will teach me. I worry about
learning to use the product once it's actually in front of me.
> Anyone who claims they can't learn a skill by experimentation isn't
> learning at all. 100% of people learned to drive a car by driving a
> car, not by reading a manual. Even the guy who buys the book on
> programming the VCR must actually program the VCR to learn to do it.
Exactly. So what's the point in my taking an on-line "course" on how
to program the VCR, or use a cash station, or operate my cellular
phone, when I can learn on the actual product? It's like
paper-training a dog--an unnecessary step, and what you end up with is
a dog that pees on paper.
> Computers offer a way to simulate these learning situations and take
> fear away of actually breaking something.
OK--maybe I'm just not afraid to break stuff.
> In fact, I also think that is the non self starters that online
> reach. People who are generally unknowledgable and consider
> an unlikely candidate for learning such things, and certainly not
> to even go about buying a book but who happen across an interesting
> site they can interact with and suddenly before they know it they
> learned something. After all, it's free.
OK, but my guess is that people like this are not very likely to be
wandering around on the Web.
> Properly written online tutorials give users a chance to try their
> at things-- RISK FREE. They don't risk money, and they don't risk
I just don't see what products this would apply to. On-line tutorials
are useful, I think, for teaching *computer related* topics to a very
specific audience. For most products (like the aforementioned VCR)