Archive for October 3rd, 2007

Dumb People and Technology

According to Wikipedia:

Dumb may refer to:

  • Stupidity, the state of
  • Dumbing down, a term referring to over-simplification

I recently wrote about the fact that sometimes technology and the use thereof, may be too complicated for some “slower” people to grasp, therefore what they might use their computer for, might not neccessarily be what others use it for. Is that ok?

In creating web apps and websites, we always try to dumb down what we are creating, in the hopes that its simplicity will push it over the top in terms of the broadest possible audience grasping what we are trying to convey. In lieu of words sometimes we create icons. Yet other large manufacturers choose to assume that people will “get it” and if they have problems just call the help desk. Can you say focus group? Or lack thereof?

Maybe Dumb people shouldn’t operate computers? Maybe we underestimate the dumb person; Or perhaps they use it to go to YouTube? Do dumb people use email? Has anyone or any company actually looked at that sector of the public to see, just what they use the computer for? Is it a group that we should market to? Are we missing out on this demographic? Or do we just assume that they will get it? Isn’t it the goal of all technology innovations that they are accessible to all? If so, doesn’t that mean regardless of your mental capacity, that that person will be able to grasp it? That you, the slow one, will get it?

Is technology biased towards people who are educated? If it is, do they leave the dumb people in their wake? What are dumb people supposed to do? Rely on smarter people? Or the Geek Squad? Do dumb people want a  crack at technology and what it has to offer?  Does technology provide a fair shake to people who want to learn but just are really really challenged?

A dumb person might have the grandest of intentions when buying a computer, but what are they to do when they have to install software, get an internet connection, download updates, install security software, burn a disc, download some music from itunes, buy some porn, etc etc etc…?

You see the world is moving more and more towards a paperless virtual high speed electronic environment. But it moves at a speed that not a lot of people are comfortable with. And you know what? Technology could not care less! Social networking sites are great but I’m willing to bet the affluency of the users is solid middle class and up. Educationally, we provide our 1st graders with a solid foundation for technology, but we’ve forgotten about the boomers and some gen X’ers even, and those who may have slipped through the cracks and those that it just passed right over. For whatever reason, those people are missing out on what technology can do for them. But now that I think about it, maybe they don’t care. Maybe to them, playing FreeCell, Bejeweled and watching Videos on YouTube, is just fine…

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Marc Meyer is a Digital and Social Media Strategist at DRMG. This is my personal blog where I share observations, thoughts and opinions that are all my own.

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