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Home > "Computing power will get easier to harness as it permeates every corner of our lives, say experts" — BBC, Nov 13/02

"Computing power will get easier to harness as it permeates every corner of our lives, say experts" — BBC, Nov 13/02

“Forthcoming word processing equipment will see the emergence of ‘the start of the paperless office” – BusinessWeek, 1975

An article on the BBC site this morning noting research from PriceWaterhouseCoopers indicating that the “complexity of computing will be hidden” over the years to come. [ link ]

Right. Tell this to anyone who is completely mystified by the tens of thousands of different commands that they can use in Word. Or the frustration that they’ll face in trying to put in place a home network, or in trying to upgrade from one operating system to a new one.

While I’ve got a great technology relationship, I’ve also become a geek, and have twenty years of tying stuff together. I know that the average human out there still has a tremendous challenge with this stuff…..

I regularly see various technology products and wonder if it will pass the “Auntie Dawn” test — she’s the lady across the street who is typical of many of the computer users out there. She’s smart, intelligent, but is also a baby-boomer like me, and is simply challenged by technology. Sadly, most products would barely even pass muster, and it isn’t her fault. Let’s face it — the average person out there aged 35+ are members of the last generation not to have grown up with computers since birth. They’re mystified, challenged, and struggling.

Which is why an article such as this PWC report seems such a joke.

I have no doubt that the future of computing is going to be fascinatingly complex and that great strides will be made in user interface, but to suggest that it is all going to become ‘easier’ for the average Joe is just a bunch of silliness.

Oh yes, the paperless office? There’s a good article that appeared a few years ago in NewsDay about why that hasn’t come about. [ link ] That prediction, which came out in 1970 in a Newsweek article, and later in BusinessWeek, was similarly off base. One would think computers were the invention of evil-pulp-and-paper companies, since they certainly guarantee customers for life.

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