With a rising need for technically sound engineers and people who can work with advanced network machinery, there’s also an alarming rise in the number of people worldwide who lack badly in the basic internet skills department.
So, let’s go ahead and dig deep into why there’s such a great digital divide across and outside the educated class on the planet, especially among adults who are a step further away from the internet than those who just happen to encounter it at work.
# 1: Unmanaged Migration
The internet was originally a defence based project — ARPANET. Before the 1970’s no one had ever imagined something like this, that would connect people far and wide with each other, would ever be put to commercial use, given security constraints. Much less think about imparting basic internet skills to individuals.
As it did become commercialised, there was very little incentive for people to add it as a skill that would be needed in everyday activity. So it became more of a resume item, than an added field of technical knowledge. This unmanaged migration has resulted in a large number of individuals — even those who are incredibly intellectual and capable to shy away from the internet as it was never hardwired into their understanding.
Irrespective of how big the problem was, there was still a bit of you that was repenting for having got involved with it.
And what about doing something that there was a burning need in you to do? I mean some task so dear, you wanted to do it and succeed with it no matter what!
Well, the internet is a similar case. Until and unless there’s a burning need for using the internet and getting it right, there’s no point trying to learn any basic internet skills. They won’t stick. What is meant by this? It simply means that connecting to a network with a wealth of information won’t be a preferred option if the information required isn’t valuable, or if the person is just trying to build up his resume and isn’t ‘NEED’ driven to use the internet for his/her benefit.
What Can Be Done: The best way to get someone familiar with proper internet usage is to give them a task that has a short deadline and requires them to go hunting over discussion forums online or to use a search engine like Google to get to websites that lead to more and more websites, each giving them some pieces of the information required to complete the task. It becomes a kind of game in the long run, but it’s very effective. People not only get the job done quicker, they also get a rush of what surfing the web can be like, in a fun way.
#3 : Realising The Power Of The ‘Interwebz’
Since many people are new to connecting virtually, the digital divide has the problem of technical understanding. Well that’s easy to solve by sitting in an instruction lab for a week or so. If not excellent, you will at least get competent at it.
But the bigger problem is that people do not know the true power of the web yet. In fact, even those who made the internet go commercial could not have realised how powerful it would become.
While, earlier it was only official work and documents that needed to be communicated or emailed, now it’s more about social networking and connecting with others on an emotional level.
But these factors are not the true power of the web. They are merely small processes and tools. Moreover, the internet is evolving into a problem-solution technology.
This means — with new professionals and experts in nearly all fields sharing more and more of their knowledge that solves deep problems faced by others, the internet is turning into their solution ground for people facing hurdles to find them quickly and get their answers! So there’s not only a need for people to master basic internet skills to find these experts, there’s also a hope of finding a solution that’s likely to drive them to exploit the web properly in times to come.
So the power of the interwebz lies in immediate solutions to everyday problems
What Can Be Done: Let me explain with an example. Suppose you’re facing a root canal treatment for your tooth. And there’s some problem that you can’t figure out but you’re not a dentist or a doctor so you don’t know much. BUT you know it’s paining!! You can easily find what’s happening and what you could do immediately to help out, by conducting a small 5 minute Google search. You suddenly chance across a website that has a small booklet or e-booklet describing the exact condition you’re facing…
Such needs within people need to be brought out by encouraging them to right down their problems separately and give the internet a shot for some solutions. The more valuable answers they get, the more driven they will be to improve their internet usage.
#4: Cultural And Technical Reluctance
For a lot of individuals, especially adults in the UK, using technology and innovation to modern levels of freedom was never thought of as a blessing. In fact, technical advancements have remained more of a ‘wonder of the scientist’ than a ‘resource of the common man’. There have been numerous occasions when getting office tasks accomplished has also been somewhat of a cop-out from the internet by saying ‘that’s not the usual way things were done’.
Such a perspective leads to cultural reluctance and technical incompetence that hinders connectivity and web proficiency…work becomes detached.
What Can Be Done: Allow people to have their own perspective of technical freedom over their personal lives as well as encourage social connectivity over the web. Have them work more in cloud based office environments for which employees who are challenged, are somewhat forced to adapt to the cloud. In the process, they will start using the internet more efficiently and their basic internet skills will improve at a breathtaking pace!
Today’s post was really inspired by all the updates that are happening over on Google and how some people I speak with have (I won’t name not even over a pint of Guinness) poor internet skills — I think they would also agree with that statement.
With Google changing / updating practically everyday at the moment I wonder how these people are going to catch up as well as digest the plethora of new skills that are required to take advantage of what the web can deliver …?
Well, one thing will come out from it, new training courses — but then again, those will be out of date the minute they start…
Ask Your Friends on Google
EDIT 21÷1÷2012 00:02 and as if by magic Google adds Ask Your Friends, although not appearing for everyone — yet — this is could well be Google’s answer to educating the masses on New Search Techniques…
Check out Danny Sullivan’s post on SearchEngineLand.com
“Ask On Google+” Links Appearing In Google’s Search Results for a great read on what to expect…
Final edit (at least for today) 21-1-2012 02:37
I’ve been checking to see how long the delay was before the ‘Ask Your Friends’ started appearing within search results and I make it 2 hours 5 mins… not bad Google not bad at all…