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Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Anyone who says they can't work their mobile or their Mac is just trying to draw attention to themselves

The presenter of the football programme on Five Live last night was making the usual announcements about how you could get the programme as a podcast. Guests John Motson and Steve Claridge were making the harrumphy "this is all too space-age for me" noises that men of a certain age and background seem to feel is their only appropriate response to a sentence that contains the word "podcast" or "tweet". 

How long can they - or anyone - keep this kind of thing up? They already sound like Victorian butlers whinging about the telephone. It's not the space age any more, boys. That was ages ago.

Obviously not everyone listens to podcasts. Not everyone uses Twitter. Personally, I don't like Facebook. Every time I go on there I feel as if I've stepped into a bar full of people whose names I've forgotten and immediately want to turn on my heel and leave.

I don't however pretend that I don't understand it or that it's operating on some level beyond my competence because I haven't passed the right exams or I began my education too late. Anything that's been taken up by millions of people all over the world can not be difficult to understand. 

If I don't embrace it that's my choice. I don't say "I'm a bit of a Luddite", not least because Luddites were weavers whose jobs were threatened by the advent of machines and in extreme cases they destroyed said machinery. 

I don't say "it's all too technical for me" because one of the most interesting things about the digital revolution is that it's been achieved without anyone other than a coder having to consult a technical manual at all. 

Our adoption of this technology has been so seamless that we've been taught how to use the technology by the technology itself. The only people who have trouble are people who have decided to have trouble.

Nobody has had to pore over an instruction manual to use Google or eBay or an iPhone. We may have relied on friends to show us the odd short-cut but we haven't needed anyone to tell us how to begin. It wasn't always thus. It's not that long since you had to take a day off to set-up even the most elementary item of kit.

The introduction of the Amstrad PCW 8256 back in the 80s. Now that *was* too technical for everybody. It came with two huge spiral bound books and had no hard drive. That meant you couldn't save even the smallest memo on it. You had to save it on to a removable disc. If, like me, you were a very early adopter, you only found this out after you'd lost a whole day's work.

In those days technology allowed you to get things wrong. Today you almost have to want to.