Computer Literacy

I’m going to say something completely impolitic, but I don’t really care at this point about appearances:

I just have the feeling that most people are too stupid to actually figure out how easy #Mastodon is to use because of:

  1. Choice and
  2. Unfamiliarity

I remember when the internet was in its heyday (I was on it back in 1989 actually - but that’s another story) and we had such high hopes for humanity learning, growing, and communicating together.

You had to sort of figure out a lot back then: How to hook up a modem, how to dial in, how to download a browser, find things, and even setting up your email was a chore. It took a lot of learning back then.

But then the ugly head of filthy lucre reared its head and decided that what was best was to dumb it down, force a single choice upon users, and we know the rest of the story.

The fact is: Most people have simply never learned how to “use” the internet. They know a few sites such as Google, Facebook, Instagram, etc… but that’s all they ever learned. And when you sign up to those sites, you’re not given any choices; they are all made for you. What used to take about 10-60 minutes of figuring out now takes about 3 clicks. Hell, it’s been 30 years and they still don’t know how to pick a secure password. They never “picked” Gmail either. They just went to gmail, typed in a name with a stupid number, and that was it. The same goes for Twitter and Facebook and the rest.

Not only that: It would populate your entire friend list with your contacts. You don’t even have to start from 0. And it would do so automatically just by clicking “Yes” when asked about it.

Whenever I help people with “computers” (never a specific, just “computers” in general), they’re still asking me the same basic questions they should have learned 25 years ago. They’ve never learned. Ever.

So, asking them to pick a Mastodon instance? Well, it’s as easy as choosing an email server. But they never did that to begin with. They don’t even understand the concept of it. They use “computers” ever day (in the form of a phone for many) but they still have no idea what they’re actually doing.

I’m not advocating that we teach everyone how to program, but basic computer literacy would be good.

But then the question: Whom, exactly, is “we”? Well, that would have to be the local education system. And while great strides have been made, it’s not enough. People have been learning “about” computers for a decade and a half in class now, but I still don’t see the rewards of it online. Sure, more people are in tech now, but what exactly has been the overall experience for most? Most people - even “young people” - still don’t know how they generally work.