A Man Who's Never Used A Computer In His Life Tries Internet Explorer

Boriss, a Firefox dev, went to the mall to find test subjects to help improve the browser. He expected to meet people with a range of tech savvy, but he was't expecting a man who'd never before touched a mouse.

Boriss stumbled upon Joe, a 60-year-old cafeteria employee, in the food court: " I begin by asking my standard demographics questions about his experience with the internet. Joe tells me he'a never used a computer, and my eyes light up." Boriss had hit test subject pay dirt - someone looking at the internet with virginal eyes, unsullied by years of bias and experience, could have incredibly valuable insight. So they began.

First, Joe tried IE. It didn't go so well:

Me: "Joe, let's pretend you've sat down at this computer, and your goal is finding a local restaurant to eat at."

Joe: "But I don't know what to do."

Me: "Why did you click on that?"

Joe: "I don't really know what to do, so I thought this would suggest something to me."

Joe's experience with Firefox was similar - and clicking the Apple 'Help' menu only confounded things, being an ironically very unhelpful place to click if you're entirely clueless.

Joe had some luck with Chrome, using the advantage of the history-displaying home screen to click a link to Yelp labelled "San Francisco". But by this point, Boriss decided Joe was too frustrated to go on.

And can we blame him? Sure, people like Joe are extremely rare at this point - the lost Amazonian tribe of mall-goers. We're living in an age when grandparents use tablets. But despite all the modern emphasis on usability and radical simplicity, computers are still an entirely alien (and alienating) world, drawing upon a presumed knowledge of symbols, context, and technical understanding. How are you supposed to know the little obsolete diskette symbol means save if you've never stuck one in before?

Ultimately, Boriss was able to set up a Gmail account for Joe, so the experience wasn't a total bust. When asked why he wanted the account, Joe explained that he couldn't sign up for his favourite bakery's reward card program without an email address. So, hey, at least the light of discounted shit on the internet shone upon his face. [Borris' Blog via MetaFilter]

Photo: Haru/Shutterstock



    haha thats awesome - my 70 year old uncle owns an ipad and emails all the time while traveling

    So true - "How are you supposed to know the little obsolete diskette symbol means save if you’ve never stuck one in before?"

    My future kids are going to grow up with this floppy disk symbol never knowing what a floppy disk looked like or how it was used... Kinda sad really.

    Like driving a car or using a circular saw, using a computer is a skill that requires practice to be any good at it. This should not be a surprise.

    True TSH, but at least you're not endangering anyone physically (most likely.. heh) if you don't really know what you're doing on a computer. I couldn't say the same for a car or circular saw.

      Sounds like someone has never worked help desk before... Sometimes I would cringe soooo hard... It hurt me.

    I used to teach prison inmates to use computers. One guy asked me what the big long button on the bottom of the keyboard was for, another, would ask me every 5 minutes how to get a capital letter again, and another very large fellow just kept asking me to teach him how to hack. Needless to say the computers weren't on a network.

    And Just like a Car

    Parents Should Train there kids on propler computer useage...

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