Wednesday, July 28, 2010

How does a cellphone work?

I wish I'd had a voice recorder going on the last patron of the day: "What's an application?" "Why do they always explain complicated computer terms with more computer terms?" "What does 'Reload current page' mean?" "How do I get back to Google?" "What's 'word processing'?" "How can I get rid of the ads on a webpage?" (She found a dating service ad to be offensive.) She says she needs to learn enough to be employable, but she keeps getting bogged down in minutiae. I wonder if she can use a telephone or drive a car without being paralyzed by the realization that she can't explain how they work?

Then to find out, after 45 minutes of this, that she's not even a patron and can't check out the "Teach Yourself Visually" book I gave her. I showed her how she can type her question in the Google search box--exactly as she would ask it to me--and get some useful results. Yes, the results use words that are also not self-evident. What to do? Go back to the Google search box. Keep doing this until some of it starts to sink in. Just as in mathematics there are axioms that we don't have to prove, we each need to reach a point in the "how?" questions that we don't really need to answer right away in order to achieve useful results.

She threatened promised to come back Monday for Computer Tutor Drop-In time with some specific questions. We'll see.


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