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Since computer terminology can often be one of the biggest stumbling blocks to understanding the world of personal computers,I've tried to make things a bit easier by defining new terms at the beginning of the chapter in they first appear

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Friday, 20 January 2012

PEOPLE’S EXPECTATIONS ON COMPUTER KNOWLEDGE


We are a society of images. Our standards and expectations are often shaped by the way we visualize things. Our primary sources for the way we see our world (or at least would like to see it) are found in commercial advertising. For good or bad, much of what many people know about personal computers is based entirely on what they see in 60-second television spots or in the product displays found in newspapers or magazines. Advertising is designed to catch one’s attention and spark the public’s imagination. Manufacturers want people to know that personal computers are more than toys, so they tend to picture them doing some fairly sophisticated things. More than that, they tend to show them as the tools of successful people. It wasn’t always that way, of course. Many people had their first taste of the technology through home systems that did little more than play Pong or other arcade games. Those early systems were quick to evolve, however, into more powerful tools and the advertising shifted away from entertainment towards business. This became increasingly true as more personal computer corn- panics entered the marketplace and competition quickly turned into battles for survival. A company’s success required the type of volume i1hS that can only come from business, industry, and government .As advertising changed to reflect the needs of these constituencies, it also began to 1itled the expectations people had about personal computers and what they can do. What advertising how k end results. The commercials picture young executives sitting down at their desks, turning on and getting instant information. Advertisements picture screens with full-color graphs and charts, or leave the impression that the heroes of today’s offices are the ones who can produce instant analysis. The tramp skates through to success simply by putting a personal computer on his desk.What the advertising doesn’t show is all the time and effort it can take to get a personal computer to do everything shown. Audiences are often left with the impression that personal computers are not only easy to figure out, but that they will arrive ready to do whatever is asked of them. Many companies expect the same things, and it isn’t unusual to find organizations where little time has been planned or allocated for getting people started on working with the technology. As people saw personal computers being placed with managers and executives first, another expectation developed. Success is equated with having a personal computer, or at least having access to one. Computers aren’t thought of as tools to improve productivity, but rather as vehicles to enhance careers. This carries the status symbol quality one step further. Some workers, perhaps fearful of future obsolescence, are also developing the expectation that they have a right to be trained on the technology whether or not they are currently using it. Part of this fear is being fueled by advertising and educational programs that emphasize personal computer training for children as young as toddlers. These two groups represent the opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to offering training programs. On one hand, those looking for career mobility will want access to new programs that may enhance their own marketability. They will press for training in the latest or most innovative software, and will be the first to ask for demonstrations. They stay current by reading various trade publications, watching advertisements for the latest product announcements, and by listening to any number of office or personal computer user grapevines. Spurred on by their various sources of information, they often ask for training or access to so-called vaporware products, which have been publicly announced or given a product evaluation or review by a publication, but which are not yet available for sale.It is from this group that the user expert, or cocky novice (someone who knows just enough to be dangerous), will come. As a group they will tend to see personal computers as a means to a particular end, and will strike out more on their own to explore various packages and programs. Often they will be looking more for the “flash” effect a program may provide than for its added productivity value. The second group tends to view personal computers as an inevitable fact of life. They will need more basic information and will he less likely to go off exploring on their own. Many will be from the ranks of older workers and some will harbor a genuine fear of computers. They will learn what they feel they need to know in order to keep up with younger employees, and will press for training that is more related to the job they are currently performing. It is this group that will view personal computer training as something they have an inherent right to learn, and will often plead to be allowed into introductory classes.Whichever the group, there will be ample sources of motivation for wanting to learn about personal computers, as well as a wide divergence of expectations about how quickly that can be accomplished, and what that will mean back on the job.


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1 comment:

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