18 Aug 2010

Bit by bit about Bits-n-Bytes

> We have entered the password but its still not getting through !! 
> Me : Be Calm, It will work, Try a different password - well here it goes - spelling out - Alpha, Delta, Alpha  ...
> Its still not working !
> Me : Let me analyse. Whats the message its showing on screen ?
> Nothing - its still showing the Login prompt. Its not accepting the password !
> Me : How do you know its not accepting the password .
> Well - instead of the password - its showing stars !!
> Me : Oh thats okai - you are proceeding correctly. Just enter the password and click on the "Go" button.

If the first few lines gave you an impression that this was some hack session in progress, the last two lines should dispel that myth. Introducing technology to the uninitiated can be fun, interesting while at the same time exasperating and not to mention  pretty demotivating (for both sides) at times. And speak of acres of patience required !. This one was a telephonic session after I gave my parents the first dose of how to use a computer and put in a mandate that they had to start using it.

It started out as something that had been at the back of my mind for quite some time. Back home, my parents were immersed in their own little world of contentment. This included the usual temple visits, activities in the garden and rubber fields, partaking in village events, visiting relatives and all. The only window to changes taking place in various aspects of modern life was through television news and occasional tidbits from us. Why - even the mobile phone was a late entry in our household with mother  initially making up a thousand excuses on why one should not use the device. However about two months back, I managed to sit with her and drill down the basics of making a call, using sms and all that. And I'm convinced that she has got the gist ( use the "green" button to make the call and the "red" one to terminate it ).  

Next in line was an awareness of computers. I had a laptop lying at home gathering dust (since I now use the one provided by my employer). So after the mobile shiksha - I focused on making them aware of the basics of computers. Easier said than done. Father would rather toil away in the fields than sit in front of it and mother was of the opinion that the screen emitted radiation and what not - preferring instead to make tea for us !. (yeah - if you happen to visit our house - u'll be treated to multiple rounds of tea and home-brewed coffee )

However I still persisted and the initiative seems to have got onto a good start. The biggest problem is the enthusiasm factor. You really cannot be interested in learning something if you haven't got the enthusiasm for it. The trick then is to find that aspect which enthuses acceptance. The second problem is that modern technology by itself sounds very intimidating. It has to be souped down in a simple to digest manner. Don't rush headfirst into explaining the nuts and bolts of Word before they can learn how to control the mouse squiggle across the screen and focus on icons etc. Simple games like Solitaire or Mine-sweeper might be the key to familiarize folks with the environment before you push further into utility computing.

Well. the endeavor is still in progress and will keep posting interesting aspects and lessons learnt from this. Someday who knows - its might manifest in the form of a simple curriculum to boot-strap elders into the tech world.

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