But who’s going to teach the Geeks? The Haves and have nots – Part 1

Posted: February 16, 2013 in Uncategorized

335100How did you learn how to use your computer, your phone, you mp3 player?
When you were young, who taught you how to build a house with blocks, make a coffee cup out of clay, and paint a rainbow?

More than likely you learned by watching someone else, by taking lessons and to become more proficient or take things to the next level you started reading books.

Designing a building, whether it be a modest home, or the tallest skyscraper it takes skill and the ability to learn. The same goes for making a clay coffee cup or drawing the perfect rainbow, you are watching and learning and once you have learned the basics, you can then branch out on you own.

Whether you buy a Mac a PC or a smartphone, there are things that you cant do with it. You know the device CAN do it, but you don’t know how to access the specific feature, or don’t know where to put in your email address, password etc, so that you can access your email.

Chances are that you asked a friend, colleague or family member and they helped you configure your device and helped you complete the initial setup.

That worked well in the past as everyone was showing and sharing with everyone else what they had learned – we shared our experiences. While Microsoft Windows and the Macintosh both worked slightly differently since they were cut from the same cloth, it was relatively easy to apply what you learned on one platform and apply it to the other and vice versa.

The same can be applied to iPod, iPhone, iPad and the various builds of Android.

All of these operating systems as well as Linux and the like all share the same “logic.”

This is what I mean by logic:

Windows 7, Mac OSX, Linux, etc all treat everything that is not the core operating system as “add-ons.”

You add your web browser
You add your printer
You add your scanner
You add your mouse
You add your keyboard

Your iPhone or Android
Your iPad or tablet
The same way add information
Your email
Your contacts
Calendar
Messaging

Services such as
Facebook
Twitter
LinkedIn
Skype

Then you repeat this process of adding these accounts and services to all the devices you own.

So, up until now it’s all seemed pretty easy to do.

Follow the logic you learned for one of the above actions and you can keep adding services and new features one by one, by one.

Sounds good, right? Well, with the existing logic we have used and added onto since the dawn of graphical user interfaces has all been about multitasking. Work on this, cut and paste into that, print it here and scan it in there.

Copy a document from your desktop computer to your laptop, edit, update and make changes. Then you need to copy the updated file to your computer. We’ve all had 2 or more files that all started out as one document but sooner than later you had large project of merging those separate versions back into one document. Maybe you even sent them to your printer and rewrote the document from scratch and took the best from each of the files you printed?

The basics
You know how to print in one program and since you know the logic to print, you can be confident that you can print from any number of programs. Print reports, photographs, spreadsheets, etc.

But what if you wanted to share what you are reading with others on Facebook, or you want to share a file with a study team, or what if you want to send the video on your computer to play on your television?

Each of the above examples still use similar logic, but they evolved over time and bits were added here and there and now we have really advanced computers, phones, tablets and smart televisions, but it’s still easier to use each one separately instead of having them work together.

People hated Windows Vista, but Vista was the first desktop general purpose operating system that allowed you to stream local video on your computer and play them on your networked blueray player – did you know that?

Four years earlier Windows XP could record encrypted cable television channels, record and watch free television from a simple and affordable antenna – and then play it on your TV with a Media Center Extender and later the Xbox 360 and now on the new low power small form factor Ceton Echo.

So while we could do all these and many more things, many people, even super involved and self-professed techies still don’t know that many of these features exist.\

How do you take Windows, Mac OSX, iOS or Android give them more features and make them easily discoverable and even easier to use. How do you design make this happen and at the same time try and plan for all the new features which will be released and re-released in the next 5, 10 or even 20 years?

The answer is that we can’t. We can certainly add these any many more feature to devices that use this logic, but we have already seen that while our new devices can do more, most people never use these new features or capabilities.

Got a new iPhone? How many times have you used your phone to lookup a barcode? How about scanned a QR Code on the bus stop, or at a store when you are checking out in line? When is the last time you used your phone while shopping for a new appliance and looked up reviews of it?

Have you used your phone as a gps? Likely, but have you used your phone to give you waking directions? Used it to see what shops or restaurants are nearby? What’s happening this weekend in your area? Street fair, carnival, parade, art show/exhibit? Yea, I didn’t think so; like most people you get home and use your computer to do those things or look at the newspaper.

How about the last time you looked at the latest photos posted online by your family or friends? If you did. I bet you used your computer and didn’t use your phone, it just takes too much time and time is something we don’t have enough of.

How does this relate to Windows 8, Windows RT or Windows Phone? It relates because in order to not only bring more advanced features to us, Microsoft also wanted to make these as well as future features easy for us to access and use. What use is having all these features if you don’t know if they are there, or more likely, you know they are there, you may even know how to do it, but for some reason you don’t and that reason comes down to convenience.

Microsoft didn’t just redesign Windows for “touch” screen, no they observed peoples usage patterns, they looked at what people currently use their computers for and also looked at what they can be used for and designed a friendly interface called the Modern Interface which takes away much of the clutter common on other platforms. Yes, they removed the nested menus, gone are the common rows of pull-down menus, also gone are the deeply nested menus needed to print or scan as well as many if not all others.

Now you glide through menus in a circular motion which always brings you back to where you started. No more opening menu after menu after menu and then go back a menu, back another menu and so on until you are back where you started. Nope, just push columns of menus to the side in either direction. Fast, simple and above all accessible. Because most things are simple once you know how to do it, but how quickly can you do them and then get back to what you were doing?

So who is teaching everyone how this new platform works? Where are the techie friends, neighbors, family members or co-worker?

Remember, these people, these techie’s who we as a society have always relied on to help us used our new gadgets CAN print, they CAN scan in photos and documents into their computers, they CAN send video from their computer to THEIR television, while we still as a society can’t do, or have trouble doing. Or we can do one thing, but are lost and since scanning is done differently than printing, or playing a video on your computer is much different than sending the video to your television we don’t do it.

So we have the haves and he have nots

I would estimate that the haves are less than 5% of the population, another 10% have more abilities and can accomplish more, but I estimate that 85% of all computer users fall into the not category and that 85% is not going to shrink and I propose that as computers do more and more the 15% of haves will shrink because while one person may know how to accomplish anything in an office environment, or someone else can use a computer to label and track shipments, and someone else may be able to edit videos, very few people will be able to do everything.

We’ve seen this before. Apple took the mp3 player, rethought the logic around how one should work and concurred the portable music business and for the first time in decades ousted the market standard who was Sony to a has-been player.

Apple did it a couple years with the iPhone. Existing phone platforms from Nokia, Erickson, Motorola, RIM and phones running Microsoft’s Windows Mobile could do many if not anything that the iPhone could do, but Apple took all the abilities of the other phones and rewrote the logic of how all those things could be easy and simple.

Fast forward and other 6 years and the iPhone can do so much more that it could when it was first released, but still, most people only use their iPhone to take a photo, keep their contacts organized, check emails and surf the web.
The iPhone, iPad and Android products can do so much more than that, but since these new features and utilities were added as separate apps, there is no easy or quick way for users to discover them, and once discovered, they are often neglected and forgotten because they are just another add-on – the logic that is used for the most basic and initial features of the iPhone doesn’t apply to these new developments.

In comes Microsoft
Many analysts are saying that Microsoft is late to the mobile market and that the desktop computer is dead or dying. While this is a twisted and biased view of Microsoft’s latest efforts, it is correct that Microsoft is the underdog in the mobile space – even if they have the most advanced mobile and desktop operating systems.

So whether you are of the opinion that Microsoft’s mobile phone platform is immature, Windows new Modern Interface was designed for touch at the expense of a billion mouse users, Microsoft’s latest products using the Modern Interface is much more than lipstick on a pig – it’s a new logic, developed so that the 85% of users can do more with the products they already own.

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