Old People Use the Internet!

Posted by Paull Young | Posted in Internet, Marketing | Posted on 29-07-2010


I’ve been on a bit of a Clay Shirky Binge lately, but the stuff he covers is so clever I’ve gotta share it.

The latest piece of Cognitive Surplus I’ve bookmarked during my Subway reading, this section on why we’re continually surprised by the spread of online communication – even amongst seniors:

No one wants email for itself, any more than anyone wants electricity for itself; rather, we want the things electricity enables. Similarly, we want the things email enables – news from home, pictures of the kids, discussion, argument, flirtation, gossip, and all the mess of the human condition. The surprise behind those “Old people communicating with each other online!” articles came from a focus on the technical means rather than on the social opportunities of that communication.

He goes on:

Many of the stories we tell ourselves about the tools we use are really stories about human motivation. We grossly overestimated the degree to which email would always seem futuristic and hard to use, we grossly underestimated the technical talents of older people, and we simply ignored the basic truth of technology: if a tool is useful, people will use it. (Surprise.) They will use it even if the tool is different from what existed before, provided it lets them do things they want to do. The mystery isn’t why older people started emailing each other; the mystery is how we could have convinced ourselves that email use was mainly about technological novelty rather than social continuity.

Comments (1)

Yes we do – and we blog & facebook & twitter too! Love, Mum xx

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