Linked by Thom Holwerda on Wed 17th Feb 2010 12:29 UTC
Editorial Recently, a story about people mistaking a news story for the Facebook login page has received considerable media attention. It's currently being seen by many as justification for the recent trend in locking people out of their computers for their own protection - but anyone with even basic mathematical skills and a calculator should come to the conclusion that this story has been blown way out of proportion.
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Magic Box
by ido50 on Wed 17th Feb 2010 14:44 UTC
Member since:

People are idiots. They think the computer is a magic box. You just think of something, and it magically comes up. I found out a lot of people will never try to actually read what's on the screen. It's actually not just a computer-related problem, people are doing the same thing when it comes to newspapers, television, etc. It's just more prominent in the computer world.

My mother, for example, started taking an Arts course at a university just for fun, and she needs to connect to the university's system to read course material. Well, it's been hell ever since she started the course, since she never ever bothers to read whats on the screen, let alone try to navigate through it by herself. The first few times I logged in to the system for her, she just replied "well, where's all the material, I don't see it?" Well, you actually have to look if you wanna see it. Why not try the big link at the right menu that says "Course Material".

The problem is more prominent in the computer world since it's diverse and not that familiar for a lot of people. A newspaper or television set are familiar things, with more-or-less standard and consistent interfaces, and everybody knows how to use them (Though my mother has yet to figure out the concept of one remote control that powers up both the TV and the digital receiver). People are lost when it comes to computers, first because they refuse to read, second because they have never learned all the concepts involved. A lot of people do not know the concept of the URL, let alone what the Internet is, what's a computer program, what's a web browser, etc. etc.

My mother (jeez, I'm killing her here) thinks the Internet is "a thing". She often comes to me asking me to find something for her, like a Persian film for example, and she'd just go "Can you get on that Persian film for me?" and I would go "What do you mean get on it?" and she'd say "You know, on the Internet". So I say "You want me to download it for you so you can watch it?" and she'd say "Yes!" and then I'd ask "What Persian movie?" to which I will receive the illustrious "I don't know, that one" reply.

I really think I could start a "Basic Computer and Internet Usage" course on my town and make a freakin' fortune.

Reply Score: 3

RE: Magic Box
by Thom_Holwerda on Wed 17th Feb 2010 14:46 in reply to "Magic Box"
Thom_Holwerda Member since:

Point. Woooooosh. There it goes.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[2]: Magic Box
by aesiamun on Wed 17th Feb 2010 15:19 in reply to "RE: Magic Box"
aesiamun Member since:

Tom, so you don't believe that education is the key? I think people need to have a basic understanding of computers and the Internet. It's second nature to us because we use it all the time, but there are many people that don't understand it and it is indeed a magic box.

Basic Internet Usage classes would do the world of difference, imo.

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[2]: Magic Box
by HappyGod on Thu 18th Feb 2010 04:57 in reply to "RE: Magic Box"
HappyGod Member since:

There is a wide perception from geeks that users are stupid, and that perception deonstrates arrogance.

Unfortunately that doesn't make it wrong. Users are both stupid and lazy, in large and equal measure. Not all of them, but a LOT of them.

I have worked on 2 IT helpdesks, in PC hardware support several times, and am now a developer, and I am here to tell you that almost nobody ever reads dialogues that are presented to them, no matter how alarming the dialogues are made to appear.

We proved that point on several occassions where we asked users (with a pop-up dialogue) to call in if they met some condition, like a particular brand of PC, or some piece of software. We knew we had hundreds of matches, but seldom received more than 20 or so calls.

If you choose to ignore your computer, you should expect the unexpected.

Users also apply totally different reasoning to computer concepts than they do with their real-life counterparts. For example if they received a letter in the post advising that the sender had come across a large amount of money, and to please post back their bank account details (Nigerian scam), they would throw the letter in the bin. But, when they get that in an email ...

Your reasoning regarding the number of 'stupid' users in relation to FacePlant's user base is also flawed for two reasons:

1. If the user doesn't understand the concept of his browser's address bar, he is unlikely to understand how to post on a blog, meaning most of the users in question were unrepresented in the blog count.

2. If this issue received enough attention so as to displace Facebook itself as the number 1 result for the phrase "Facebook Login", then we can assume millions rather than thousands of "stupid" users.

(phew) I feel much better now!

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE: Magic Box
by Delgarde on Wed 17th Feb 2010 20:24 in reply to "Magic Box"
Delgarde Member since:

People are idiots. They think the computer is a magic box. You just think of something, and it magically comes up.

It's not idiocy, just ignorance - it might as well be a magic box, when you don't understand the concepts involved.

Nevertheless, these people are likely part of your target audience, if you're designing software or web sites. So design with them in mind.

Reply Parent Score: 2