April 6, 2005

‘Geek speak’ confuses net users

The average home computer user is bamboozled by technology jargon which is used to warn people about the most serious security threats online.

An article on the Beeb tells us what we already knew – that many Windows users don’t have a clue what they are doing, and their computers are going to be hacked into sometime in the next half hour.
My lack of sympathy is so powerful that you should be able to smell it from over there. In tomorrow’s news:

54% of car drivers are confused by all the jargon in the industry. Terms like ‘accelerator’, ‘brake’, ‘windscreen wiper’ and ‘cigarette lighter’ all kinda blend into one, and as a result these poor people have no choice but to crash their vehicle into the nearest eight-year old.



6 thoughts on “‘Geek speak’ confuses net users

  1. In fairness, up till now it has benefited the computer industry to bamboozle people.

  2. Indeed, there’s nothing like making your potential customers feel stupid and inadequate, to encourage sales.

    Karen on April 6, 2005
  3. In the interest of fairness, I should like to point out that the article refers to the number of net users, not Windows users. Sure, most of the people interviewed will be using one or other flavour of Windows, but let’s not get carried away here! Windows is only mentioned in the context of the box that offers advice on how to avoid problems – use Windows Update.
    Also, did you note that the AOL guy quoted was Will Smith. The Fresh Prince of AOL?

  4. Maybe it was aol users…!
    In fairness, there was a website linked a couple of yeras ago where helpline people posted ‘hilarious’ stories about the ‘stupidity’ of their customers.
    Although some of the stories were genuinely hilarious tales of stupidity, the majority just demonstrated that the geeks were so up their own arses in their narrow view of the world they didn’t actually understand basic English or the importance of clear communication.
    But I love your car analogy.
    A similar survey would no doubt show that the majority of people who don’t know what a virus is do actually know how many calories there are in a Gucci handbag as carried by an ex-reality TV show runner up who was once alleged to be shagging someone who once dated a never- was boyband member.
    Frankly, I reckon there are two sorts of people in this world – those that try to correct their ignorance, and those that are too stupid to even recognise their ignorance.

  5. My name is Gordon McLean, I’m a Technical Author. I spend my days interpreting technical documents and trying to produce user focussed information that people can both use and understand.
    To slightly defend MS, the Windows Update is there precisely to stop users being confused. “Just allow it to do the work and you’ll be fine” is the view from MS, and to be fair Windows Update does work, it’s the security patches it downloads that are the problem.
    And we must account for the type of user who “loses” icons, or “deletes” programs by accident. The beauty of modern computers is that they make a lot of things very easy, and users are soon fooled into thinking they know everything and they can ignore those messages that flash up saying “are you sure?”
    And yes, the industry is very guilty of ‘technobabble’ but it’s no different from politicians and marketeers. No matter what way you spin it, information needs to be understandable to be of value, if it’s lost in nonsense wordage it’s useless.
    I had a point to make but I think I’ve lost it…

  6. Gordon, here and at Sevitz, you argue with me and end up agreeing…
    Is that allowed?
    Good thing I lurve ya, innit?

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