Computers are still hard

designaday:

After all these years and all of the hard work we’ve done to make computers easier to use, you might think we have accomplished something. All of the advancements in technology, design process improvements, masters programs, and Chief Design Officers should be a testament to our success in taming complexity, yes?

And yet, here I sit, exchanging email with my aunt, who has been using Macintosh computers about as long as I have, explaining how to take a screenshot of her disk usage so that I can help her make space available to download photos off of her camera.

And it isn’t just her. My daughters have been using computers since they had the motor skills to move a mouse, but they don’t have the interest to really learn how to use them. They know exactly what they need to know to do their homework, search for videos on YouTube, and launch World of Warcraft. 

But they don’t know how to maintain their computer. They don’t know where to begin troubleshooting if something doesn’t work right. Like my aunt, they probably don’t realize that you can screenshot a window by pressing Command+Shift+4, pressing the spacebar, and then clicking the mouse button. Even as I typed that sentence, I cringed at the unintuitiveness of the sequence—one that is second nature to me.

We still have a long row to hoe.

My daughters have been using computers since they had the motor skills to move a mouse, but they don’t have the interest to really learn how to use them. They know exactly what they need to know to do their homework, search for videos on YouTube, and launch World of Warcraft.

This has been my experience with my sons as well. They’re digital natives, but they don’t really have a deep understanding of any of their devices.