Behind the wheel of her computer, Mary clicks the paperclip icon to attach a photo of her daughter Janet to her email. If this was a car, she would have no trouble. The gas pedal would be under her right foot, where it has been for 60 years, and the last time she had to learn over how to drive was 30 years ago, when she switched to an automatic transmission, and when they put in that new roundabout near the supermarket.
But this is a computer, where the controls are replaced or moved every 3 years and little stays the same. She would like to give it up, but her daughter and the post-office won’t let her.
Her perfectly good email program disappeared, and this gmail thing has got her stumped. Her computer runs on Google but people say it doesn’t. Can’t sort by clicking column headings, can’t reply with one email to all the friends who sent her greeting cards , etc. etc. Boy, would she like to punch the programmer who did this to her.
So off to the computer clubhouse for help.
First, George says don’t use Libraries, use Favorites. After coffee, John comes over and says don’t use Favorites either and moves all her photos somewhere else. John goes to the phone, and now Gord is telling her something else. Soooo Confusing!!! Now things are changing every hour!!! Mary just wants to use the computer, not have it take all the hours in her day.
This is where messaging has got to, and frankly, its a mess. Every “improvement” comes with a huge cost to the user. Every alternate way of doing something is another thing to learn.
Simplification applies to using help at the club. Each helper will have their preferred way of setting up a computer. You might be better off choosing to use just one helper. Push the others away. And helpers, try to avoid confusing our novice members with contradictory advice.
Secondly, reduce your cross-company interactions too. If you use a Microsoft Windows computer, use a Microsoft email account e.g. email@example.com, and just one Microsoft browser like Internet Explorer. But if you want a Google gmail account, use a Google Chromebook computer, Google hangouts instead of Skype, etc. “Drastic advice” you say?? This mess needs drastic action, and I don’t see that coming from the industry. I think Apple figured this out a long time ago, and could charge lots extra for that “simplification”.
Remember, for every added capability a computer provides, you pay with your precious time. Especially at our age.
Here is a slide show continuing these ideas