INTERACTIVE: Boffins, if you want to know why folk ignore the Net, ask any mum - NEW-MEDIA CLINIC

Now that we’ve consigned our new year’s resolutions to the dustbin, it’s time for February confessions.

Now that we’ve consigned our new year’s resolutions to the dustbin,

it’s time for February confessions.

Here’s mine: I’m as technologically able as an average 45-year-old

housewife. I’m one of those Internet users for whom the term ’user

friendly’ was invented. Basically, if it ain’t friendly, it can go hang

out with the boffins.

Most of the people I speak to on a professional level about the Internet

are, by their nature, not of this ilk. To them, downloading the

ever-changing software necessary to view this or that site is no hassle;

finding out what the new software can do is all part of the buzz that

Netheads get from the Web.

Unfortunately, there’s an assumption among Web designers that everyone

shares their thrill at the latest Internet technological


Personally, however, I’m only interested in what the Internet can

actually do for me; I don’t care how it does it - in rather the same way

as I am happy to remain ignorant of the finer points of TV transmission

- I only care if programmes are good.

Which is something else I have in common with the average 45-year-old

housewife. You know - the sort of woman whose 16-year-old son has a

computer in the house, but who can only look on bemused as he surfs

something called the Internet.

’You should have a go, mum,’ the youngster half pleads, half teases.

’I don’t think so,’ she demurs. But wait, what’s this? A Tesco site.

’You mean you can actually do your shopping on this Internet thing?’

Mum throws off her shackles and dives headlong into cyberspace, logging

into the Tesco site, and navigating her way into the store. ’This is


But, hold on, what’s all this about? I can’t use it unless I ’download’

something called Internet Explorer 3.0. I give up.’

Our intrepid Internet virgin, lured online by a mainstream brand

offering a useful service, has fallen at the first hurdle. Why? Because

the boffins just couldn’t resist showing off with the latest


While such blinkered exhibitionism persists, the Internet will continue

to be a foreign land for Joe and Josephine Public.

Me, I’ll just keep cursing and calling Haymarket Systems every five



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