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An in-betweeny techie

The Genius Techies
High up above the clouds you have the maxed out, brain burned, fizzing, genius techies who know all and can do all – in two minutes and using no more than just a text editor. They’re the high fliers.

The Simple User
Firmly planted on the ground down below are the users, the plodders, the confused keypushers who if it don’t work, leave their computer alone for a week or two until it gets friendly again, until they have forgotten what it was they wanted to do, or until that nice young boy from next door can pop around and fix things for them. Like plugging the mouse back in, for instance.

The Worker Users
Slightly above this level are the worker users, the ones for whom a computer is just a tool at work, who have a techie department to solve their issues, who get paid-for training on the programs they use and are quite confident within their own little bubble at work, but who find it difficult to do anything different at home. Well, they like shopping and watching TV, playing or watching sport, but on the computer they stick with what they know – not a lot happens here then.

The wannabee Techies
Some way below the geniuses we have the wannabee techies. The bodgers, the untrained and non-structured, non-systematic, fingers-faster-than-brains users who know a little – but in a dangerous way. Some of them even have jobs in IT, and seem to imagine their main role in life is to maintain the techie hierarchy in stasis. Woe betide any of their peers who actually try to elevate any users up a level. After all, if a user suddenly learned how to ask a question other than “my computer’s broken” they may get found out for what they are – wannabees, not really ares.

In Betweeny Techies
And then there is everyone else – people like you and me. People who’d like to use a computer for fun other than gaming, people who are forced into learning about techie stuff in order to be able to do their non-work related computing, people who blog, surf the net, make videos, people who are avid users of web services like MySpace, You Tube, Flikr, and one of the various Blogs about, people who may even have their own websites even. They probably don’t use all these services, just one or two, but they do want to do more than just use a computer for work.

This is a big and diverse group of people, but mostly they would prefer not to be involved in the techie side of things, they just want to be creative. They have intelligence, and can work many things out in time when the logic is simple, but often they don’t have the time so either revert to Simple User mode or push forward into Wannabee Techie mode hoping the solution will suddenly appear in front of them. It usually doesn’t, but sometimes they get lucky and press the right button by accident.

So, here I am in this somewhere else. I’m not a wannabee techie because I just want things to work. Easily. Which shows I’m related to the Work Users, only I’ve ventured out of that shell. Had to really as I’m too old to have learned about computers in school, and don’t work in a large corporation with a tech department or large training budget.

How did I figure out what group I was in? Well, I couldn’t work out how to post my blogs via email using the instructions in this website. Or others. Pingbacks, trackbacks, tags, and more. In this area I’m probably three layers of explanation down from the level this site aims it’s instructions at – the wannabee techies.

Typical bloke
I’m a typical bloke who doesn’t read the manual because I don’t actually like reading the manual because every time I do I feel more and more useless, frustrated and ignorant, aged and out of touch because the manuals tend not to explain anything at all! I need an explanation for the explanations of the explanations – and I don’t want to have to go to a different page each time because I’ll totally lose the overview of what it is I’m trying to find out. Computer screens can be so limiting and I’m really not organised enough to be able to remember whereabouts each bit of info I need lies without being able to lay pieces of paper out on my desk. Which is too full of other rubbish I couldn’t organise either.

I’m just too young to have learned a good system of paper organisation in my youth because when I did my degree computers had only just started coming in, but I was too old to have learned the new methods of organisation there since the internet hadn’t even been invented yet.

So, I’m an in between techie. I like writing, photography, playing music and commenting on current affairs. I run 3 websites, but prefer to use scripts rather than create them from the ground up – because if I don’t have to learn the techie stuff I won’t. I have coded simply in php and html but only because I had to. For me, the computer is a tool, not an end in itself, and I hate wasting my precious downtime struggling with multi-layered, jargon laden instructions on how to do what the box said it could do on the outside. See – I wrote this blog rather than fight through the instructions!

Three tips for techies:

  1. Explain the consequences of each action in a process: you know all about it – I don’t;
  2. Explain the effects of making each of the many choices at the point where the choices have to be made;
  3. Remember to use “which means that…” a lot more.

And try to be a slow genius rather than a fast wannabee. Life makes more sense to the rest of us that way!

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