It’s worse than that, he’s dead, Jim.

This entry was posted by on Friday, 23 September, 2005 at

Ok. I realize I work in the industry, but are things REALLY this bad in other offices?

As found at:

And referencing the article here.

“Most office workers find computer terms such as javascript and jpeg just as difficult to understand as a foreign language, according to a new survey. A poll of 1,500 staff by recruitment firm Computer People showed that three out of four wasted more than an hour every week simply finding out what some technical term meant. ‘A massive 61% don’t understand the difference between gigabytes, kilobytes and megabytes and as a result have sent e-mails with huge attachments that have blocked clients’ systems.'”

Are we not yet as technologically savvy as I had once thought we were? On page two of the article it lists out the terms which are “most likely to leave you baffled” and proceeds to highlight 9 words which I personally would EXPECT anyone who uses a computer to know. (By the way, the article misspells “Excel” as “Excell”. Come on people!) And the definitions are horrid.

If those 9 terms confuse and boggle the typical office worker, then I am way further in over my head than I had once thought. Gods forbid I start dropping words or terms like: TCP/IP, domain, daemon, environment variable, or path. (All of which are still rudimentary words or phrases I have to use every day and my users all understand exactly what I mean.)

So I ask you this: is the majority of the world’s office workers just a mass quantity of neophytes that I can’t see from my technological bubble of a profession? Or are things really not as bad as I fear?

Of course, being the medium I am using, I expect to get only one answer to this question… otherwise I’d at least be amused by the paradox of a neophyte actually being able to login to the intarwebnetthing and reply to my posting here.

8 Responses to “It’s worse than that, he’s dead, Jim.”

  1. What’s worse is when so-called “techies” don’t understand common terms.

    And speaking of JavaScript, I want to personally kill the Netscape Inc. executive who decided on the name JavaScript. For a little history, originally the language was called LiveScript. But the Netscape execs decided to ride the buzz of the new language Java and so renaimed it JavaScript despite the fact that it shares almost nothing in common besides some syntax with Java. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve been talking about server-side Java and some asshat will confuse it for JavaScript. And the reverse happens as well. SO ANNOYING! Further proof that Netscape Inc. and its management team deserved to die a slow and horrible death. Being bought out by AOL was getting off too light.

  2. Want to ReALLY get annoyed… we use BOTH Javascript AND Java in our products. Talk about confusing for the uninitiated!

    I have resigned myself, at least, to not even trying to understand any coding languages. I just don’t get it and only find frustration in trying. I still, however, understand the basic terms!!!!

  3. So I have a question…

    Where do I get an intarwebnetthing? Oh and do I have to pay extra for that?

  4. Re: So I have a question…

    Right here. And Yes.

  5. Re: So I have a question…

    Mmmm sweets!!

  6. If my co-workers are anything to go by, then I’m afraid that things might very well be as bad as you fear. None of my office-based colleagues know a thing about what I consider to be very basic computer-related terminology, and the majority of the technical personnel only know as much as they need to get by. I took particular pleasure in explaining to our Technical Training Manager what a VOB file was yesterday 🙂

    And as for the very poorly-written explanations in that article – do please note that it _was_ written for Welsh people to understand. Bless ’em.

  7. Two cents from a “user”

    Guilty as charged; I’m barely computer literate. I DO, however, write down instructions given to me by our IT person so I know how to resolve commonly occuring problems.

    But doesn’t it really boil down to the whole specialization factor? Lawyers get paid to understand the law, H&R Block to understand the tax code, and IT folks to understand computer problems (not to mention programmers to understand code). I think our outsource IT guy gets paid per visit, so I would think he would be only too happy that your average “user” remain somewhat ignorant or he would be making less money. Just like folks who can change their own oil mean lost revenue for a mechanic. Yes, of course, this is a GROSS oversimplification, and I agree that users should at least have a rudimentary understanding of their PC; offer it in highschool like basic Driver’s Ed. (don’t open unknown attachments, they can break your machine = don’t throw the car into reverse while it’s going forward, you can destroy your engine).

  8. I’m unusual in that I took computer classes in elementary school through high school, and have never felt uncomfortable operating one. So, I’ve known the terminology and have been able to keep up.

    At my company, the IT guys and the engineers are savvy. But the other departments would be hard-pressed to find somebody with even my comfort level and vocabulary. It’s just not seen as being that important to somebody’s job, unless their job is hardware or software development. As long as they can run Excel, that’s good enough for management.

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