A CASE OF TWO EXTREMES
As a life-long tech fan and self-taught geek, it's easy sometimes to forget that most of the population is still trying to catch up with technology developments, gadgets, trends, terms and applications that many of us may have taken for granted ages ago.
A sharp reminder of this came today from BusinessWeek's Blogspotting tech blog, where both the co-authors Stephen Baker here, and Heather Green here post separate items on a consumer ease-of-use study that tests "Well Spent", one of Business Week's seven blogs.
"No participant understood the mechanisms associated with RSS/subscribing to a blog – not even the minority familiar with the term “RSS."
Few participants even recognized that they were on an actual blog – and once they did, had a very different reaction to the information presented.
A minority of participants understood how to navigate within the blog itself – with most being confused by areas for recent posts, categories, trackbacks and even the comments and archives functions."
OK, so not a real big surprise really...I remember consumer studies being written up in the mid-nineties during the height of the consumer online services boom, driven by AOL and others, that had consumers sliding the mouse across the screen to get the cursor to move.
What's encouraging is to on the same day, see this separate, totally unrelated post by Tablet PC maven JK on a brilliant one and two part podcast by two 12 year old girls, Amy and Wendy Mack. They give an insightful, articulate, cogent, nuanced, and entertaining tour of Microsoft's note-taking software package OneNote for PCs and Tablet PCs.
Their dad Eric, a technology consultant and avid Tablet PC user, posts a summary of his girls' podcast on his blog here. After hearing both podcasts, I can't help but violently agree with JK's assessment:
"Eric should be proud of the thorough evaluation Wendy and Amy gave of OneNote. Heck, I've never met them and I'm proud of them. Great job, girls! I would also offer a suggestion to Chris Pratley, product manager of (Microsoft) OneNote- you and your entire OneNote team should listen to these podcasts very carefully. You will not find a more refreshing look at your program anywhere."
What's funny here is that Amy and Wendy are actually pointing out, in a very positive and enthusiastic way, the various elements that make OneNote, Tablet PCs and other software programs and web technologies harder than they should be.
Technology is either too hard, or easy, depending obviously on what you've grown up with. So after being brought down by the BusinessWeek study, I'm now on a high for the day after the Amy and Wendy show.