Friday, March 11, 2011

My ephiphany of the morning

I had a real epiphany this morning while having breakfast at the hotel.  Theyve got a couple of industrial full-auto coffee machines there, push the desired button and coffee appears.  The buttons are all labelled clearly as long black, macchiato, extra milk etc.  A monkey should be able to use it.

So why did I spend several minutes watching people peer myopically at the worlds simplest interface in consternation, then hesitantly push a random button, and finally look disappointedly at the result?  Its a freaking coffee machine, not rocket science, but it defeated multiple people.

The same people then lined up to try their hand at the toaster.  Put bread in top, toast comes out bottom.  One group required the combined efforts of three people to figure this out.  One of the people wasnt sure about all this and squatted down so they could watch the bread the whole time it went through the conveyor, presumably just in case there was any witchcraft going on and they might have had to burn someone.  I suppose this is why fax machines confuse people how does the fax go to the other people if the paper comes back out?  And can you e-mail me that document back when you have finished with it, its my only copy.  *sigh*

I think its times like these when I had what alcoholics refer to as a moment of clarity(thanks Jules).  Stuff that is incredibly basic just seems to turn people into drooling idiots when theres any sort of technology involved, regardless of how basic it seems to the rest of us.  If you cant operate a push button coffee machine, then I have no idea how youre going to master using a PC.  Certainly subjects like a file directory structure or navigating somewhere that cant be found using your Yahoo toolbar isnt going to happen.  Log into the worlds simplest Belkin or Netgear modem and enter a username and password?  Forget it, youre talking fantasy.

This will probably make me sound like a complete cruel bastard, but its true so what the hell.

As an exercise, think of someone you know whom you consider to be of average intelligence.  Now consider that 50% of the people running around out there are dumber than that, some considerably so if theyre at the end of the bell curve.  That kind of frightens me.  Some old dude in the hotel this morning was having problems figuring out the freaking lift buttons.  I have no idea how such people cope with modern society.  Theyre the people lined up at the post office on Saturday mornings with their little dog-earned bank book, withdrawing cash from their savings account theyve had since Menzies was in power.

Like I said, its mean but its true.

Its times like this that I think I understand the challenge to be faced in selling something like the NBN.  It means nothing to these people.  Ultimately they might benefit from it when their doctor has access to a high speed medical database, or they can access additional services at the local government department, but to them I honestly think its all white mans magic they cant see, dont understand, dont even know they dont understand and thus how can they see the benefit?  They can see additional teachers in schools, more being spent on roads and more nurses in hospitals, because thats tangible for them.  What they need to see is a killer app like a full-screen video phone they can talk to their grandkids on.

In the end, I did get my coffee, but only because one of the group finally achieved success (possibly by accident) and everyone else charged around to see this miracle (apparently the last time such a thing happened, there was a star in the east), thus giving me unfettered access to the other rig.

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