This is an illustration/comic that is floating around the internet. It was in response to the geeks of the world being unhappy with Apple’s new iPad, a new gadget that we all had our eyes on since rumors of a tablet PC coming out of the Cupertino computer maker’s offices. It was not a tablet at all, but a big iPod lacking in capability in our eyes. But I want to discuss a different aspect of this graph: geeks that repair computers vs computer end users. In my case, the Technology Department of Rockingham County and it’s administrators, teachers and students.
What is important for someone like me, an IT professional, to understand is that this graphic is 1) very much true and 2) in need of a solution.
As the number of computer users continues to dwarf the number of IT professionals/geeks/nerds/etc, we need to understand that not everyone will not only know as much as we do but also not WANT to know as much as we do about computers and being a “power user”. We are becoming the car mechanics of computers. You bring us your problems, we fix them, we send you on your way. But is it my duty to just fix them or should I also try to educate you as to why it broke or how I fixed it?
In my job, there are two types of technology staff, Computer Resource Technicians and Instructional Technology Resource Teachers. Both of these jobs have this same quandary. One sets up, repairs and maintains computers and networks and the other shows people how to use them and implement them in their classroom to make things better. We both have opportunities to make that geek circle, our proud container, bigger. Encompass more users. Educate the masses. But what if you don’t care.
Personally, I want to make it a challenge to myself to educate you on how your computer works and why it’s doing what it’s doing (whether good or bad) so you won’t feel helpless or completely lost. Confusion is embarrassing and uncomfortable. If I take my car to a shop, I don’t want to be fleeced with services and parts that I don’t need. I want to protect myself. It’s part of why I took the time to learn how to change my own oil (or let my father teach me against my will) and look up on the internet how to replace my alternator when it goes bad and to know what parts I’m seeing under the hood so I can tell someone if something looks funny.
So excuse my forwardness when I stumble on my own words to make what I do a little less confusing for you. Have patience with me as I have patience with you. You can tell me it makes a knocking sound and your mouse stops working while I explain to you the parts inside your printer or that your wireless mouse lost it’s bluetooth connection. All we can do for each other is ask questions back and forth and try to solve the problem together. I’m not trying to impress you with my computer jargon, I’m trying to impress you with caring.